Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New York City: Day 3

NYC Times SquareSaturday, we had breakfast at the hotel, then headed back to Manhatten. An old friend CM, currently living in Connecticut, suggested we get together, so my Mom and I met her at Grand Central Station. She's in NY reasonably frequently and naturally fell into pointing out the sites. We walked toward Rockerfeller Center and then looked for a place to have lunch and catch up.

NYC Library

Mom mentioned that I wanted to find a suit for a job interview and CM lead us to Saks Fifth Avenue. There, I got a lot of help from a savvy Swiss sales woman, whom Mom (always the tennis fiend) seemed to befriend by saying that Roger Federer was her hero. I managed to find a suit which was classic, flattering and thankfully on sale. I wasn't sure if CM was going to be free for more than lunch, but it turned out that her husband had taken their young kids to see his parents and she was free to have a girls' day in the city. It was good to catch up, and wonderful to have a second and third opinion and also to feel that I could take my time as she and Mom chatted while I tried things on. She did venture off to look at the children's clothes and reported back that she had spied a 'chocolate bar' (as in a desert place specializing in chocolate) upstairs. So we treated ourselves to brownies and coffee; we were on vacation after all.

I had wanted to wander around Soho so we got in a cab and headed south. We browsed shops and galleries and enjoyed the sunshine.

art on street
cat and Buddhaspotted Sohoheads on strings
cityscape, Sohoarches

Yes, those are heads on strings in the window.

hand chair
narrow building
crossingfire escapes
characters with columnsSoho streetfaces
pedestrians with skeleton

I liked the view of ordinary people walking the street, more or less oblivious to the skeleton.

wunderkammer window
Grand Central wedding CM wanted to be back in Connecticut early enough that she could drive home before dark. Though, quite quickly traffic became snarled and there was no hope of catching a cab. We tried to walk to a larger thoroughfare to no avail. So, we found a subway, and though we had to fight with the card-reading machine, we got to the busy platform. Then, we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, when the train arrived, it was packed, of course. We got on the busiest train I've seen since I lived in Tokyo. Luckily, everyone was good natured about it. I apologized when I was pushed into the people in front of me and they said that of course it wasn't my fault. Our neighbours asked when we had to get off so they could let us by. CM missed her first train, but the next one apparently allowed her to be home before dark. In Grand Central, there was either a brave or crazy couple having wedding photos taken. We said goodbye to CM and then headed toward the Cort Theatre.

Grand Central CM had given us a list of suggested restaurants, but we were pretty tired after we reached the theatre. We managed to find a Japanese restaurant, Sapporo, around the corner. The food was great and really reasonably priced. Mom had booked us ticket to see the screwball comedy 'Born Yesterday', with Jim Belushi, Nina Arianda and Robert Sean Leonard. Originally performed, made into a movie and set in 1947, the play tells the story of a boorish, bullying, less-than-honest millionaire businessman Harry Brock (Belushi), and his (not-so) dumb, blond mistress Billie (Arianda) who come to Washington so he can increase his sway and influence by bribing a Senator. Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson, on House) plays Paul, the reporter Brock's lawyer tells him to impress. Brock, feeling that Billie's ignorance means she just doesn't fit in, in Washington, hires Paul to educate her. Paul, of course, is smitten. The story is familiar from Pygmalion or perhaps, a bit of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, with a few twists which add commentary on the political process, influence peddling and democracy. Plus, it's very funny. Arianda, whom I haven't seen previously, stole the show. She even made shuffling cards funny. She of course, goes from the heavy-drinking, lazy-thinking, bullied 'concubine' to the confident, clear-sighted woman with a thirst for knowledge (even though she still garnered laughs with the 'out of the mouth of babes' type comments). The set - a lavish hotel room - was beautiful. The audience clapped as soon as they raised the curtain. Even the theatre itself was lovely, the usher was hilarious, and the feeling conspiratorial. It was a great evening. We really enjoyed the show - and I was particularly pleased to see two such disparate plays.

Our trip back to Queens by subway was uneventful this time and we got in before midnight.

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