A Few More Tidbits about New York City

The Chinese take-out just down the street from Dee's apartment
The Chinese take-out just down the street from Dee’s apartment

In yesterday’s post, I described going to New York City last weekend to visit my daughter Dee. In that post, I had planned to touch briefly on the highlights of the trip, but the spirit of Samuel Becket seized me, and instead I wrote about the terrific play we saw—Waiting for Godot—and how it remains relevant to our time.

Therefore, today I will briefly describe the other highlights of the trip and share some of the pictures I took.

One of the things I love best about New York City is the wonderful diversity of the people—black, brown, white, Asian, gay, straight, stylish, and frumpy. It’s all there. For someone like me who comes from a mostly white and rural state, the variety is dazzling and a reminder that there are many, many types of people on this planet.

On Saturday, we began our Manhattan foray with a trip to the Chelsea Doughnut Plant for one of their fresh, fresh donuts. Dee had a pumpkin donut, which she let me taste, and it was utterly delicious. My own square coconut donut was also tasty as can be. (Unfortunately, the picture of the coconut donut didn’t come out well.)

Dee's pumpkin donut at the Doughnut Plant
Dee’s pumpkin donut at the Doughnut Plant

Properly fueled, we explored some of the art galleries in Chelsea, ending with an outdoor installation of Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s Sheep Station, which appropriately enough featured sculptures of sheep “grazing” by a defunct gas station. A vision of the future? A juxtaposition of rural and urban? Whatever the case, it drew people’s attention, and there was much picture taking.

Sheep may safely graze
Sheep may safely graze

Then, it was on to McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co. in Greenwich Village. McNulty’s bills its store as a “journey to another time,” and they are not indulging in hyperbole. The shop is small, tight, dark, and loaded with containers of loose tea and bags coffee. The closest analogy is an old-time smoke shop, albeit one with healthier products. The clerks who work there—they all seemed to be men, but I could be wrong about this—gave the impression that they had spent a long time as tea and coffee apprentices and that they took their jobs very seriously. Not that the atmosphere of the store was glum or stiff. Far from it. Although these clerks took their jobs seriously, they were also relaxed. I bought some Golden Assam for me and Lapsang Souchong for Clif. A white-haired man weighed the tea on an old-fashioned brass scale. Later that night, when we got back to Dee’s apartment, we tried some of the Golden Assam, and it was smooth with a slight tang, a first-rate tea. From now on, a trip to New York will include going to McNulty’s for tea. Among other teas, I’d love to try their English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

After all that walking, from the art galleries to McNulty’s, we were hungry, and we stopped at Spice for a late lunch—curry for Dee and pad Thai for me. At Spice, the food and the service are good, and the food is reasonably priced, not a given at any restaurant, whether it is Maine or New York.

Pad Thai at Spice
Pad Thai at Spice

In New York, the streets are crowded with cars and trucks, but bikes are making inroads. I have been going regularly to New York City since 2000, and never have I seen so many bikes and bikers. There are bike lanes, relatively new, and stands of city bikes, which can be rented. Mayor Bloomberg, apparently, can be thanked for the bike promotion, and this is a lesson that shows the importance of visionary leadership. I am all for community-based action and projects, but with big things, such as bike lanes, the initiative must come from the top down. And if  such services are provided, people will use them, as was clearly demonstrated on my New York trip.

Bikes by the bike lane
Bikes by the bike lane
Bikes for rent
Bikes for rent

Sunday, was Dee’s day to choose the activities, my birthday present to her, and being a movie buff, she chose movies. We saw the excellent 12 Years a Slave, and this movie was so good it is my guess it will turn out to be the best movie of the year. The acting was outstanding, the cinematography was beautiful, and the story was gut wrenching. Set in the 1840s, the story revolves around a free black man named Solomon Northup and how he is tricked, captured, and sold into slavery. A must-see movie, that’s for sure. Interesting that the director as well as many of the actors are British.

We also saw Claire Denis’s Bastard, a stinker of a movie. But you can’t win them all.

All too soon the weekend came to an end, and it was time for the long bus ride home. But what a weekend! A stellar play, an equally stellar movie. Donuts, tea, good food. And best of all, a visit with my daughter.

A tree grows in Manhattan
A tree grows in Manhattan

 

 

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