just kickin’ down the cobble stones

Over the President’s Day weekend, Jeff and I went up to New York, primarily to visit MoMA and to see The Gates, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art installation in Central Park. I’m horribly late in writing it up, so I’ll start by just cribbing from Jeff’s posted bullets:



My photos from the trip have been slowly trickling online as I crop, post-process and upload them; while they appear as separate entries here on the blog, they’re also available together in my NYC and but is it art? sets on Flickr.

As Jeff notes in his entry about the trip, we procrastinated terribly about this trip, with the result that we couldn’t get tickets to the show I most wanted to see–Spamalot–nor could we find a hotel room in Manhattan for much under $300/night. In the end, though, that turned out to be a good thing, as we got a room for $120/night at a new Comfort Inn in Queens, half a block from the Queensboro Plaza subway (the first stop across the 59th Street Bridge–“Feeling Groovy,” anyone?–from Manhattan). It was convenient, clean and well-run (and with the bonus of a cute Indian guy manning the desk both days), and we ended up exploring cool sites in Queens–the Noguchi Museum, the Sculpture Garden–we’d otherwise probably never have visited.

All in all, I had a really great time. I especially loved the Noguchi Museum (I’ve long been a fan of his art) in Queens. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the new musical (starring John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Sherie Rene Scott, and Joanna Gleason–I adore Joanna Gleason) based on the Michael Caine/Steve Martin comedy, was a lot of fun. And it was really great to see Matt and Jeff again, and a pleasure besides to meet Jon, JP and Mike for the first time. MoMA was awesome and The Gates were, well, something to experience.

However, I think practically the entire population of DC, and a good chunk of the rest of the world, were in New York that weekend. Every train up from DC on Saturday morning was sold out, as was every train returning Sunday evening. Restaurants featured very long lines, and the queue to get into MoMA stretched a block; fortunately, we’d purchased a membership beforehand, so we were able to skip ahead and enter through the member’s entrance, but once inside the crowds were stifling and claustrophobic. By the time we got to Central Park late Sunday afternoon, I’d just about had my fill of the city, its residents and all the damn tourists; I think my experience of The Gates suffered because of the mood I’d reached by then, and as it was getting colder and darker we really didn’t stick around long. Moreover, I’d seen so many pictures of the installation over the preceding week that I was finding it really tough to find my own photographic vision; it was hard to find something new to see in the site, and almost impossible to take a single picture that didn’t include crowds of strangers.

So we finished off the weekend with a wonderful, relaxing meal at Thalia’s–a restaurant we’d first visited last year during Restaurant Week, and which has become a particular favorite of ours–and then headed back to Penn Station to catch the train back to DC. Monday was a holiday for me, and Jeff stayed home as well, so we had a day just to relax and recuperate.

And now we’re beginning the plans–we’re not procrastinating this time–for our trip back up to the city in April, this time with my mother in tow as part of my Christmas present to her. Spamalot, unfortunately, still is sold out, but I don’t think Mom particularly would enjoy Monty Python’s humor anyway; instead, we’ll likely see The Lion King, and maybe Hairspray. We’re getting a two-room harborview suite down in the Financial District, and we’ll catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty (something I’ve never even done, in all my visits to New York) from there. I’m looking forward to showing my mom around the city, her first trip there.