Monday, June 04, 2012
New York! New York!
My sister Kathy, right, had never been to the Big Apple. Now that she lives relatively near, down in Luray, Virginia, close to her daughter, Lisa, they drove up on Memorial Day to spend a day with me in the city and take in a few of the sights. Here they are, outside the Gershwin Hotel on East 27th. Free parking jackpot -- directly across the street! They had driven for 5-1/2 hours and there it was, a vacant spot. That spunky little kid, as you shall see, is Lisa's firstborn, Noah, whom I sometimes call Mister McFiddle. Lisa retired from United Airlines as a flight attendant to raise Noah, her one and only child. The family's dad, Captain Brian, was somewhere high in the sky that day piloting a big United bird.
Meanwhile, back on the ground, Noah, who just turned six, is something of a self-produced circus himself, forever doing things. Seemed like he was constantly teasing my camera to look his way. Although he harbors a wish to be a pilot like his did, I don't exactly see this acro-clown in any cockpit.
My three guests in the lobby of the Gershwin Hotel. I like to sit there in the late evenings and listen to the moody background music, suggesting the gradual fadeout of a subtly scored discotheque.
First stop: Near Times Square on Broadway and 33rd, we played Can't Stop Shopping, the game I created with my friend Boyi Yuan.
The Wonder Wheel lives again! It's the centerpiece, if I am correct, of a glitzy new carny zone at Coney Island with some fantastic looking rides. Coney seems to have rebuilt itself to a decent degree. Not Disney or Great America. But a few steps above the seedy gang infested place that it was for too many years.
Mother and son on their first Wonder Wheel ride. Kathy and I rode it many years ago when I was Noah's age!
Noah was not tall enough to ride alone ... so, his slightly taller great uncle was recruited. Other than some near head-on collisions -- No, Noah, No! -- Great fun!
You have to be of a certain age to appreciate the remarkable endurance of this classic ride. Kathy and I qualified.
Subway showoff, on our way back to Manhattan. Going out, we took the wrong train, one that goes under the river. So on our return, we kept waiting to see light and the Brooklyn Bridge appear. Finally, it did, and we got our rattles worth.
When I asked Kathy what she might like to see in NY, she said "Saks Fifth Avenue." She was also keen on seeing the bright lights of Broadway by night. So, after returning to the hotel, we boarded Lisa's SUV, and she drove fearlessly through Times Square, through a sea of rushing taxis, occasionally getting honked at, feeling like aliens surrounded by little yellow blobs. It took a while to find a way onto Fifth Avenue. Amidst all the brilliantly illuminated fashion shops, we could hardly see Saks as we passed by. There it stood in the shadows, an older building without the lights that adorned other shops, remarkably distinguished in restraint, so sure of its legacy, apparently, as to shun all such flashy illumination. Saks Fifth Avenue you've got class.
And finally, just in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Ooops -- you say it's in London? Not in Central Park? Oh, golly! ...
A night to remember: I have always been entranced by the spectacle of these horse drawn carriages ambling around and through Central Park. Finally, the moment to climb aboard was mine and theirs! The end of a great last day in New York city. Whenever I see the carriages now, I will think back upon that magical evening, and of how I imagined the bounce of the carriage being similar to what the horse feels over its hoofs in graceful motion.
We lucked out with the perfect driver -- suave charming Mario from Italy ...
Au Revoir, New York, au revoir!