I spent last weekend in New York. I looooove this city. Every time I visit, I am falling more and more in love with it. I don’t know what’s ahead in my personal/professional life but after my current gig I would seriously consider a move there. We’ll see.
The “excuse” for this quick trip was my friend Cindy‘s play, “Her Name is Vincent”, that she directed and co-conceived. Not that I needed an excuse to travel, especially since it’d been more than a year since I last visited :-) I didn’t know about the Halloween parade nor the New York Marathon until I actually arrived at the hotel and started talking with the folks there. That explained why I couldn’t find a good hotel deal for Saturday night :-)
BTW… the Ace Hotel NY was absolutely amazing (recommended to me by my friend Kim). I really liked its modern, simple style. I fell in love with it from the moment I got in. The lobby was even full with loud music from Coldplay :-)
The lobby and a note in the elevator.
“Her Name was Vincent”
I had taken the redeye from Seattle so I was quite “out of it” on Saturday but, still, I started exploring almost immediately. I decided to go to the afternoon show of Cindy’s play so that I could check out the Halloween parade in the evening.
There were two parts to the show, the first of which was absolutely amazing. It was based on the life of Pulitzer-winner poet Edna St. Vincent Millay… The actress portraying Vincent’s sister, Norma, was soooo charming. Even before the play started she was in character, interacting with the audience (it was a small theater). It took me a while to speculate that it was all part of the act, which I confirmed later with Cindy. Very clever :-) I still think, though, that in all likelihood she’s as charming in real life too.
The two actresses are amazing singers. I loved the play… it was funny and emotionally charged at the same time! The story unfolded in such a unique way, artistically, and full of music! Well done to Cindy and everyone involved.
The Halloween Parade
After a looong walk around the city, I got ready for the Halloween parade, which was a total let down for me. I was expecting groups of people with common themes, a lot of dancing, a street party. Instead, the parade consisted mostly of random people in costume just walking up 6th Ave and having their photographs taken. Granted, there were thousands and thousands of people but still…
BTW… I don’t think the heavy rain played a role in the lack of a carnival party atmosphere (well, at least I didn’t feel a huge party vibe). Also, I am usually the first one to participate in such activities so it was weird to be on the sidewalk :-)
I guess this is how Halloween is celebrated in NYC. In Greece we have the “carnival”, like Brazil and other places. Each year, my home city, Xanthi, holds the second largest carnival parade in Greece. Now, that’s fun!!! Large groups (hundreds and hundreds of people in each group), dressed in a common theme, dance in the streets and have fun! It’s a huge street party! Someone from New York needs to go check such parades out.
New York Halloween parade
Cindy and her friends were also in the parade. Cindy was dressed as the “keyboard cat”. :-)
Oh yeah… as I mentioned above, it was RAINING!!! I had checked the weather forecast before I left and the weekend was supposed to be sunny. I wasn’t prepared for the rain :-( I got totally totally wet! Big realization and a note of caution to all of you out there: the iPhone is NOT, I repated… is NOT, waterproof :-(
After the parade, the night continued at a bar with beers, meeting and talking to new people, and just enjoying the city vibe :-)
The NYC Marathon and the Museums
Sunday was such a full day!!! Breakfast-picnic at Central Park, long walks around the city, the NYC Marathon, many hours at the Guggenheim and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a couple of coffee places for breaks and reading (I am reading “Physics of the Impossible” by Michio Kaku that has captivated me so far).
I spent quite some time cheering the marathon runners (around mile 23). It was great to experience their effort. I am inspired… one day, one day!!! :-)
There was a guy next to me who was listening to the radio. It was obvious that he was. So it was funny to see many of the runners, even at mile 23, thinking about the Yankees and asking him for the “score” (the Yankees are in the “World Series” :-).
It was my first visit to the Guggenheim museum in NYC. I was seriously impressed with their collection. They have an amazing collection of works from the masters of modern art. Their main exhibition this period was about Kandinsky‘s works. I am a fun of Kandinsky’s works during his Bauhaous years but it was nice to see how he evolved as an artist and educator over his lifetime. It was fascinating to see so many of his paintings aggregated and exhibited in such a beautiful way. The evolution of his style over the decades was absolutely evident. The way his personal and creative lives were captured (narration and written) perfectly accompanied the passage through time, as one walked around the beautiful space. The museum itself is a beautiful piece of architecture (by Frank Lloyd Wright).
The interior of the Guggenheim museum in NYC.
I was not as impressed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Unfortunately, three of their six floors were closed for new exhibition installations. I was looking forward to seeing Alexander Calder‘s famous “circus” collection, a film of which I recently saw at the Seattle Art Museum. I enjoyed the exhibition with Georgia O’Keeffe‘s works though.
An Evening of Jazz
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a play/musical for the evening (everyone seems to have the day off on Sundays). So I quickly visited the hotel to freshen up/change and then out again. Lee Dirks recommended a list of good jazz places to visit and given how well he knows the city and my tastes, I had complete confidence in his recommendation. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
I first went to the “Jazz Standard” where I had dinner listening to “Go Home” until about 10.30. “Jazz Standard” is one of those “structured/organized” jazz clubs… good musicians, good food, and relaxing atmosphere… the show finishes, you are given your check, and everyone slowly makes their way out. Very similar to “Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley” in Seattle.
So I left and walked for around 30 mins towards “Smalls“, a small bar with live jazz. It’s run by musicians who just love music :-) There were three bands playing for the night (I missed the first two) and then there was a jam session. The idea is that you pay the cover to get in and then stay for as long as you like. They serve alcohol, unlike the University of Jazz where I went last time around. It was also fun chatting during the breaks to 3 Slovakians who were visiting NYC for week :-)
Inside “Smalls” Jazz Club
I stayed out till 2.30am (5 1/2 hours of jazz :-)
At MoMA Again
Every time I visit NYC I spent few hours at MoMA. However, I have to remember for next time… Note to self… never visit MoMA on a Monday. It was absolutely packed. Apparently that’s how Mondays are because theMetropolitan Museum of Art is closed.
Many of Picasso’s and his contemporaries works were on display. I seriously enjoyed the Photography gallery that I hadn’t seen before. The contemporary art section was very interesting. I felt old when in one of the galleries the artistic scene of the 70’s and 80’s was portrayed by artists born in those decades :-) In a collage of magazine and newspaper photos and articles on the wall, one could see the likes of Bob Dylan, Clash, Sex Pistols, Blondie, Rolling Stones, etc. etc. It was as if a younger generation was investigating the art movements of those decades and studying their lives, their work, their feelings, their anxieties, their reasons for being angry and rebellious. These were the same artists that I used to listen as a teenager :-) (and still do)
Talking about that era, here’s a photo from that section dedicated to my PhD supervisor, ex-boss, and very good friend Paul Watson :-)
New York, New York
I just love this city. I am going to make sure that it doesn’t take me another 1 1/2 years to visit again.
Some Random Photos
Art installation at Chicago’s airport (there is music accompanying it as well). Every time I go through the airport I make a point of checking this underground corridor.
Clever use of mirrors (from MoMA’s architecture gallery)
Autumn in Central Park
A city under the moon