Monday, March 25, 2019

New York

We will be traveling for the next few days, taking the train down to Manhattan.  My main goals are the Tolkien exhibit at the JP Morgan Library and to see if New York bagels and pizza really are better, or just a style that some people prefer.  Tracy's goals are the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial. I saw Ground Zero a few months after 9/11/01, when it was a fenced-in hole, and haven't yet been back. We will be staying near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.

I'm not really ever in a New York state-of-mind.  Even Boston is too much city for me, and Boston has all sorts of lovely preserved history from 400 years ago, much of it intertwined over the years with subsequent events.  I seldom go even there these days. New York not only has only mostly recent history of about 100 years on display, it also has managed to develop the most evil teams in every major sport.

Still, it's New York, the real international capital of the US, even though all the people who run the government have an enormous coven in DC. There are things in New York that aren't anywhere else, and for those of us who have a fondness for American Jews, it is the one essential destination still.

Taking the train is nice enough, mostly because it is still more laid-back than a plane, and has more space to sit or to walk around.  I couldn't decide between a New York song and a train song, so I chose both.  We have a series of train songs that we used to sing in the car, annoying the children. I don't know if trains are real Americana anymore, but the songs certainly are. Though those things have a way of receding - sea shanties were real Americana once, enough to be forced down the throats of American schoolchildren as late as the 1950s, including those who lived a thousand miles from the ocean.  But I am one of the few who would know any at this point.

If you say anything brilliant at your own sites over the next week, I won't know it until next week.


james said...

We had to learn a bunch of American songs, including a sea shanty, in the 60's.

Grim said...

I've only been to NYC twice. The first time I was a child, and my mother had won tickets in a contest. This was the era of NYC as not-a-nice-place, and my childhood memories were of it being dirty and chaotic and full of strange characters. I remember a guy playing a ukulele on roller skates. My mother's purse was snatched while we were there. While we waited (uselessly and foolishly) to fill out a police report in a nearby store, the owner followed me around constantly to be sure I wouldn't steal from him -- which offended my childhood self mightily at the time, once I understood why he was following me around all the time. It would never have occurred to me to steal from him. But now I realize that he doubtless faced shoplifting constantly, and couldn't know that this particular boy wasn't going to take anything from him.

The second time I went, I went up with Jimbo from BLACKFIVE back in 2011 for some reason or other. By 2011, NYC was a much nicer place all around. My sister was living in Brooklyn for a while at that time, and I stayed with her for a couple of days. We went to the Cloisters, which were beautiful and interesting. Brooklyn was full of young mothers with double-seater prams, and nice restaurants that weren't all that expensive all things considered. Gentrification, I suppose. I had jalapeno cheese grits and some very passable beer at one of those restaurants with my sister, and we had a nice visit. She didn't stay there long -- she's out in Idaho now -- but she liked it, and benefited from her time there. One of her childhood friends was there, who had fled from the South for a while because he was gay; now he's back in the South again, but it was a good time and place for him, too. He flourished and gained the kind of confidence he needed to come home and survive in a less embracing culture.

So I don't have a set opinion of the place. I've seen bad and good there, the two times I've been. It's not for me, but I think it really is for a lot of people -- at least for a while.

Galen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galen said...

The JP Morgan Library is a gem. Walk around Tudor City (an enclave next to the UN) if you have the chance. It will restore your spirits in the big city. Finally, head up town to the Frick and view Holbein's opposing portraits of St. Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. All the rest is commentary.

RichardJohnson said...

Courtesy of a cousin who has lived in the Lower East Side, I have made many trips to NYC over the years. Just walking the streets is fun. I've already seen the places to see. Though perhaps I should revisit the Cloisters, which I last saw in '74.

The last time I took a train from Boston to NYC, I was entertained by overhearing a fellow passenger, a Harvard Law student, saying how Harvard Law students were such good people. And so modest, I thought to myself.

Dan Kurt said...

re: the Best pizza

After sampling a New York Pizza (its the water ya know) try and sample a Detroit style pizza (Brick Cheese is the secret) and then a St. Louis style pizza (buttery cracker like crust) to make a final judgement.

Dan Kurt