Sunday, 12 July 2009

Some Itinerant Leftovers From New York

I am home. Three words that can either be interpreted as comforting or discouraging. In this particular case, I will side with the latter. The last few days have been a beautiful blur of theatrical magic mixed with a cacophony of street sounds, odours from unidentifiable street meats mixed with those of delicacies from local bakeries, and frankly, just a whole lot of fun. I will attempt to put an exclamation mark on this trip with a few leftover tidbits.

My post of two days ago in which I extolled the niceness of the citizens of NYC, was a bit premature. It didn't allow me to relay the following anecdotes that put the whole "we are trying to grind the rude New Yorker reputation into the dust" into clear perspective. On Friday, The Husband and I decided to play tourist in a new way for us. We hopped on the A train (I just love the Duke Ellington feel of that sentence!) and made our way to the outskirts of Brooklyn. Our mission? To cross the Brooklyn Bridge via the footpath and make our way back into Manhattan. The weather was glorious as we ventured across this 130 year old engineering marvel with the familiar New York skyline before us. City workers were busy across the entire span of the bridge, cleaning and repainting worn out sidewalk signs. As we approached the Manhattan side of the bridge, we came across this scene.

The little girl was obviously enthralled with the gentleman's task, and he graciously allowed her to participate in the painting. I heard squeals of delight that I thought were long forgotten memories. Loved this.

Later that day, we were walking through the West Village, taking in the scenery, when a major fire alarm brought 6 or 7 engines to the area. While a few of the firefighters were busy searching out the cause of the emergency, several others were hanging out-in full equipment mind you-on the street chatting with the locals and the tourists. A few even stopped to pose for photographs and good-natured ribbing. (As we headed north from the Village, we happened to pass by the Village Vanguard. This little hole of a club was the breeding and meeting place of folk music royalty of the beatnik 50s and hippie 60s. Peter Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Eric Anderson and many many more started there. It switched to an all jazz policy in the late 50s and artists like John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Woody Shaw performed regularly. Unfortunately, my camera battery died just as I was snapping the picture, so imagine a bright red awning coming out of a wall on 7th Avenue and a little wooden doorway marking the way through music history.)

Finally, as we made our way back up to midtown, we found ourselves walking past Rockefeller Centre. We spied a cop on horseback and a woman who tentatively approached the duo in a shy attempt to snap a picture. The officer graciously positioned his equine friend for the photo and then encouraged the girl to come up and pat the animal. They chatted about horses and the day, until finally, both made their ways elsewhere. Nothing like New York.

Have I ever mentioned The Husband's secret crush? No, it is not me. I am long past being a crush and no, it isn't Catherine Zeta-Jones who is far from being a secret. My husband has a private longing for Bernadette Peters. He has had this infatuation ever since I have known him. (And that has been decades!!) It doesn't matter if she is on award shows, a horrible movie-of-the-week, a Broadway revival on PBS, or guesting on Law and Order, the channel surfing automatically ceases when Bernadette Peters is on. So it was somewhat fortuitous that we had about an hour to kill last evening before venturing to the theatre to see Tony Soprano tread the boards. Late yesterday afternoon and early evening, Broadway held Broadway Barks. This annual event located in Shubert Alley between 44th and 45th Streets brings together a collection of Broadway's finest and the various ASPCAs of the Greater New York area, in an attempt to find homes for lost or abandoned dogs. There were hundreds of people and dogs milling about the area listening to presentations hosted by--Bernadette Peters!!! Ok! Mary Tyler Moore was also hosting, but that was completely lost on The Husband. MY GOD!!! There she was in the flesh. It matters not one whit that she probably has about 20 years on the man, he was as lost as some of the puppies hoping for homes. In his defense, the whole event was kind of cool, with many of my personal acting idols up on the dais and a few that I had just seen perform days before. Not only that, it combined two of my all-time favourite things-Broadway and dogs. It was a wonderful way to kill an hour.

A quick review of God of Carnage, our final theatrical experience. Outstanding! James Gandolfini is terrific live, although he will always be Tony Soprano to me. Marcia Gay Harden is her usual brilliant and award-winning self, and Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis provide stellar support. Written by two-time Tony award winner Yasmina Reza, (she also penned the sharp-witted Art, a personal favourite of mine) it is the story of two uptown couples convening to discuss the playground brawl of their sons. The resulting action is both telling and hilarious. A tough ticket to come by, but well worth the price.

Here's to you New York. See you again next year.

1 comment:

  1. The customer service ethic is so much stronger everywhere in the US than it is here. My wife theorizes that it's because people with service-sector jobs there can live on the income, while it's next to impossible to do so here. But I think it goes beyond that. I had a great experience a few years ago in NYC. I accidentally left my wallet in a cab at the airport. The cabbie found my wallet, looked up my phone number on my business card, and called to arrange its safe return - complete with all the cash, credit cards and ID. New York is a very different place today than it was even 10 years ago.