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I Love New York

February 10, 2015

photo (47)I’ve been to New York City several times since my first visit in 1982, when I got one of the original I heart NY buttons and then the parody version to go along with it.

This time I tried foods I’d never eaten before, saw sights I’d never seen, and met three imaginary friends. photo (51)While Ron was at his work meetings I walked through Times Square, went up in the Empire State Building, saw where my friend Harriet works and met an imaginary friend, Meg. I looked at books at The Morgan Library and met another imaginary friend, Maggie, for dinner at the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar.

Let me tell you about Grand Central Station. It really has a ceiling with stars. I thought that was just made up by Mark Helprin. It also has a whispering gallery right outside the Oyster Bar, where Maggie ordered raw oysters and I ate some of (50) They weren’t bad. I rather liked the small ones, but I had a hard time with the big one, which I decided to try simply because who can sit in front of a plate with something called a “naked cowboy” and not try it?

My imaginary friend Marie suggested I should see The Strand bookstore, so we met there and walked through it on Friday morning. Sometimes it’s hard to look at books and carry on a conversation at the same time, but we managed it and it was marvelous. photo (48)On the shelf of leather-bound classics I found a copy of my friend Joan Slonczewski’s first book, A Door Into Ocean. Marie and I talked about A.S. Byatt and I compared her to John Fowles. Afterwards, she took me to a Japanese Ramen Restaurant, and that was marvelous, too. I wasn’t sure what to expect (images of packaged ramen in my head) but the noodle soup we were served, with pork and egg on top, was delicious.

Ron got out of his work meetings earlier than we expected, so we decided to go to tea at the Plaza, which was as lovely as ever. We wondered if the palm court would be overrun by little fans of the Eloise books, and there were a few, but they were on their best manners, eating pink cotton (53)

We walked from the Plaza to MOMA and lucked into free Friday, so we wandered with the crowds through all the exhibits. They have a Magritte on one of the top floors–one of that series where it’s daylight in the sky but evening below, and lights glow in the windows of the houses and if you take your eyes away from the painting for a moment, someone passes in front of the window…or at least I always think that’s about to happen.

We saw Kinky Boots, which is about a guy who makes shoes meeting a drag queen, and they go into business designing high-heeled boots for men. It was charming, and there were big song and dance numbers. I like the way the drag queen, Lola, addresses the audience: “Ladies, Gentlemen, and those of you who haven’t decided yet….”

Saturday we met our friends who live in New Jersey and went through the 9/11 museum, which was interesting and sobering. After that, we found the Campbell Apartment for drinks, having been sober long enough. We walked, photo (54)ending up at Ca Va for a pre-theater dinner and saw an Albee play, A Delicate Balance. It had two intermissions, which gave us enough time to predict what would happen next and then decide afterwards that some of our plots were as good as the one Albee came up with. There were some famous people in the play and it was interesting to see them live, although not that different from seeing them on the big screen (at least from our seats near the back of the theater).

I Love New York by Ivan Jenson

Do not
in love with this city
its jungle of squares
the curves of walking women
swimming up streams of men
Do not become infatuated
with the magic fog
rising from the concrete night
and the sea life symphony
of traffic and psychological pollution
Do not let
yourself succumb
to hypnotic reds
and blues
of broken-hearted Broadway
because this town will never
return your sentiment
you cannot sleep
in the arms of a twenty four hour coffee shop
you cannot tiptoe
to kiss the big lips
of billboards
a cabby
can only be your ten-buck
psychologist for the short ride
The fleet of high heels,
hands, hopes and frustration
will never truly be
your family
when you loose even your darkest powers
they just have to
get to where they are going
I tell you
the city cannot gratify your
greed in the bedroom
Miss Liberty
is only green copper
on a river
and at night
when you close your eyes
she never
she is seeing other men
millions of them

The last place we went was the Guggenheim. photo (56)I’ve wanted to see it ever since hearing about it in the movie LA Story, where he roller-skates through an art museum and someone tells him he should go to the Guggenheim (because it’s round, six floors of ramps). Ron and I went all the way up and then our friends joined us and we went all the way back down. There were some interesting exhibits, and then there was the On Kawara exhibit that wound around the whole place, canvases with a painted date and associated newspaper story mounted in a cardboard box below, binders full of newspaper clippings and dates, and postcards stamped with the time the artist got up or saying “I AM STILL ALIVE.” Naturally, my friends have been texting me to tell me what time they got up ever since we saw this.

photo (52)I do love New York City for a long weekend. The “fleet of high heels,” fur coats, and the occasional guy dressed as the “King of New York” are fun to watch for a while, but it’s all so exhausting I like it best in small doses.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2015 4:43 pm

    I respond to NYC like the introvert I am: first I revel in the pulsating energy, and then I realize said energy is actually draining right out of ME. New York is a bit of a vampire…but so fun for a little while. (Also, I still haven’t been to the Cloisters. Did you go to the Cloisters?)

    • February 12, 2015 11:06 am

      I did not go to the Cloisters. There must always be something for a next time, besides new plays!

  2. Rohan permalink
    February 11, 2015 8:14 am

    Oh, that sounds like such a great time. I envy you! I love New York too, and also find it exhausting. When I was in grad school my sister lived in Mamaroneck (up the Northern Line a bit) and I used to spend weekends with her and go in to the opera on Saturday afternoons. I always felt such a sense of expansion coming out of Grand Central and deciding how to spend my mornings before the show. Even if you don’t have much money, there’s lots to see — but I think if I actually lived there I would find it depressing after a while, because you really can’t afford the fun stuff after a point, and then I’d just feel left out.

    • February 12, 2015 11:08 am

      Yes, I think that would be true for me, too–I like doing the expensive, fun stuff, but I would be exhausted by being there for more than a few days–both mentally, because of all the people, and physically, because of all the walking!

  3. PAJ permalink
    February 11, 2015 10:13 am

    Loved the poem. I agree that New York is better in small bites. And it’s best when shared with friends. With friends, you’re protected somewhat from the “psychological pollution.”

    • February 12, 2015 11:09 am

      That’s true. And I want you to know that I got up at 7:28 am.

  4. February 11, 2015 11:00 am

    Sounds like you had a really wonderful time especially meeting all those “imaginary” friends!

    • February 12, 2015 11:09 am

      Yes, it was an imaginary friend bonanza! One of the benefits of going somewhere so crowded!

  5. February 11, 2015 11:16 pm

    I love living your weekend vicariously. Even though, well, you know. 🙂

    • February 12, 2015 11:10 am

      It made it more fun that you were having fun sharing the city with me. The only thing you suggested that I didn’t get to do is to look at the fancy dresses at Saks and see Saint Patrick’s. Next time.

  6. February 12, 2015 9:13 pm

    I have not been to New York City often, and you would think that growing up just outside of Chicago I would be used to a big city. But, a big city is not the same as New York City, and I suspect one would always find something new. Something wonderful to explore. You were so clever to go to The Strand. If I had it to do again in my life, I would visit a bookstore in every city I went to. Probably more than the museums. 😉

    • February 13, 2015 12:22 pm

      It was not my cleverness to think of The Strand, but Marie’s! We had a great time browsing. It’s hard to pack books when you’re flying, and perhaps that’s a good thing if you want to visit bookstores!

  7. February 16, 2015 11:54 am

    I just adore New York, but I need to visit again for Ellis Island to see the family names in the logs. The Strand can be so overwhelming!

    • February 16, 2015 11:57 am

      Because it was February and the forecast was for very cold weather (which we got; I bought street-cart earmuffs) we didn’t plan to see Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty, which I’ve still never been to. There should always be a next time with a big city!

  8. February 25, 2015 7:41 am

    Oh, my dear New York. I will say — as a girl who formerly believed that New York would be an impossible city in which to reside — that when you are living there, everything gets easier. I lived in Brooklyn, too, which helped to give me breaks from the very pulsating way Manhattan can be. But truly, the small doses thing — it can be marvelous in large doses, when you have all the time in the world to explore it and find its little weirdnesses and its quiet places.

    “this town will never / return your sentiment” is such a good line from that pome.

    • February 25, 2015 8:01 am

      Harriet showed me your former cubicle! It was right next to Meg’s. She also encouraged me to go to the Morgan Library, which was a good quiet place.

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