FROM NEW YORK
(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
New Yorkers for a Day
Christmas in the City; Visit to Greenwich
NEW YORK, Dec 11 - "Post nubilla, Phoebus," says a Latin proverb ("after the clouds, sunshine"). Things change. And so it was here, too. After the snow storm blew through the New York area in the last two days, New York was basking in crystal clear sunshine on Friday morning. It was the day that Elizabeth and were to spend in the City. Our plate was full even before we had left our hotel in Westchester County. We had so many things lined up in the City that we knew we weren't going to be back until after midnight. So we decided to act as "New Yorkers for a day" and take a train instead of driving to the City.
We boarded the commuter train at Port Chester for a 45-minute ride to Manhattan. Isn't this great old radiator a riot? (left shot). And the antique is still working.
We disembarked at Grand Central, the train station where history of the 20th century and many movies were made. As Elizabeth stood in the middle of the great hall, she threw her arms up dramatically and said, "where to now?" :-) Well, our first stop was the Yale Club (two right shots).
After that, we walked on to the New York Yacht Club on 44th Street where we had a delightful lunch with a couple of my friends whom I have known for decades. Before that, we crashed somebody's Christmas party on the second floor, where the above pictures were taken, so we could admire the magnificent wooden carvings and ceilings in the Club's most ornate "great room."
Earlier, we had also snuck into the Algonquin hotel where so much of American literary history was made, especially between the two world wars (Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald...). Elizabeth has been reading lately Hemingway and Steinbeck so I thought she would appreciate soaking in a bit of the Algonquin's "hallowed" atmosphere firsthand.
In the afternoon, while I gave a media interview on Avenue of the Americas, Elizabeth did some window shopping on her own in the Midtown area.
As the sun was already setting around 4PM, we bundled up and headed for Central Park for a long walk. The Park looked beautiful even with all the leaves off the trees, but the weather was freezing cold.
We walked until our skin could not take anymore of the blustery 25F-degree weather (-4C), and then headed for the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts.
A two-hour cultural break in a warm museum was good both for our bodies and our souls. I snuck in a couple of "illicit" photos. The first one (left) was a famous Rubens painting "Saint Elizabeth and Saint John with Holy Family". If you click on the title, you can also see its "official" photo at the Met web site. Thought Elizabeth may like to have it as a souvenir fromt he Met. Later on, we followed our ears to the source of some lovely Christmas carol music. A small crowd had gathered around a big tree to mark the first lighting of the seasons of the Met Christmas tree (middle).
After doing some shopping at Bloomingdale's, we made our way to the Rockefeller Center which was as crowded as the Yankee Stadium during a World Series. It seemed 'everybody' in New York was there to see and take pictures of the famous Christmas tree, the largest in the City and possibly in the country, too. And so did I (above right).
After having a quick bite to eat at a local bistro with my daughter and her husband who had flown in from Cincinnati for the weekend, we witnessed something that, in my books anyway, is the epitome of the cultural regression of American life. Here we were, freezing to our bones in the 23F-degree weather (-5C) by then even as we were all bundled up, and yet here were all these people with their blankets and mattresses, lining up and ready to spend the night on the sidewalk in front of the NBC studios so they could part take as audience at some morning TV show.
"What could possibly motivate a person to do something like that?" I kept wondering as I snapped the above (right) picture.
If you know the answer, please let me know. The only thing I could think of is that they may be hoping for a fleeting moment of fame if their faces were to show up on TV for a second or two. And if that's how desperate they are to be noticed, can you imagine how empty their lives must be? I find that pretty tragic. To me, the picture I took above serves as a condemnation of the American way of life.
On to happier themes, Elizabeth and I went on to a late Christmas Spectacular performance at the Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue, just off the Rockefeller Center.
The Radio City Music Hall has been the site of memorable entertainment performances for 77 years now. Completely renovated in 1999, it now has about 6,000 seats. We were fortunate to get excellent tickets, less than 10 yards from the stage. In fact, after the show had begun, we moved farther back a bit so we could get a better view. Here are some of the shots I took during an outstanding performance by the world famous Rockettes...
The sets were marvelous, visual effects were very high tech, the dancers were exquisite as the full orchestra enchanted the crowd with Christmas music. Afterward, we took a late train to Port Chester and then drove back to our Westchester hotel. We were exhausted but also exhilarated with our 18-hour jaunt to the Big Apple. We did not get to bed till 2AM. But the next day was Saturday and we knew we could sleep in.
GREENWICH, CT, Dec 12- We did sleep in. I am too embarrassed to tell you what time we got up this morning. Eventually, we made our way to Greenwich, Connecticut, where Elizabeth did some more shopping while I visited some long neglected memory lanes.
For, Greenwich is where Annex Research, Inc., my consulting company was born a very long time ago. Elizabeth took a picture of me in front of our office on Greenwich Avenue (two left shots). My first office was kitty-corner across from the Post Office (middle right). Even though Greenwich is a quaint old New England town (established in 1665), it has a huge City Hall. The building that houses the local government is bigger than the White House (right). Yet you can still see cops directing traffic on Greenwich Avenue by old-fashioned hand signals as they have for a century or so.
Guess the message is - it takes big government to stay close to the people? If only that were true of the White House... :-)
And that's all she wrote from this trip to New York.