December 9, 2017

Musical, Magical, Manhattan

Luckily I'd re-checked the forecast when I was packing on Thursday night. Snow! On Saturday! (Not Tuesday, per earlier forecasts.)

I broke out the insulated winter boots for slushy sidewalks and my ski jacket to stay warm and shed the flakes.

Snow-dusted bare trees outside the American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
Big, wet snowflakes drifted down from the sky and melted on my tongue. The first snowfall of the season was just enough to make the city pretty, and not enough to wreak havoc or summon the plows.

To make the most of my short trip, I headed for a quick morning visit to the American Museum of Natural History—via the subway.

I'd read about the deteriorating state of the subway system, but from afar I didn't follow the details.

What a mess. I walked over to 34th to catch the D train, only to discover it's skipping that station (repairs). I re-routed, and found some holiday cheer in a car where a three-piece ensemble (accordion, guitar, and bass) played and sang Feliz Navidad. They appreciated the applause (and donations).

Embedded reproduction dinosaur fossils adorn the walls of the subway station for the Museum of Natural History, 81st Street, New York, New York
I focused my abbreviated visit on something new: geology. It's sobering to cast your eyes on a sample of a rock that includes zircon crystals dated to be the oldest material on earth (over 4.276 billion years old).

Quartz pebble conglomerate from Australia containing 4.276-billion-year-old zircon crystals, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
I studied a cross-section of folded rock from the Sequoia National Forest (Kings Canyon), and a slice from the familiar San Andreas Fault.

A spectacular 12-foot geode was popular.

Purple amethyst crystals exposed in a 12-foot tall geode, cut open, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
I hustled back to the subway to head downtown for my matinee. Having just missed one train, I listened to ambiguous announcements about a stalled train near Columbus Circle. The next train arrived, and was held in place by a red light.

Time for a taxi. Chivalry is officially dead: standing there in the snowstorm, a “gentleman” positioned himself upstream to intercept the cab that should have been mine.

Front of the theatre playing Dear Evan Hansen, 239 45th Street, New York, New York
I made it to the theatre in time. (Just.) Another bittersweet musical, Dear Evan Hansen. The staging included panels onto which images and words streamed; social media plays a big role. It can be hard to laugh when you know the story must spiral out of control, that it can't end well. Ben Platt (Evan) was brilliant.

So much to see and do ... I was already regretting how short this trip would be.

Snow-dusted bare trees, lit up at night, Lincoln Center, New York, New York
For the evening, I necessarily had Plans A and B—both at Lincoln Center. Plan B would be to see NYC Ballet's Nutcracker. Plan A relied on someone freeing up a ticket to a sold-out performance of the NY Philharmonic, the last in a short concert series commemorating their 175th anniversary.

Metropolitan Opera House and fountain lit up on a snowy night, Lincoln Center, New York, New York
The box office window for “this performance” was shuttered. I figured I'd plead ignorance at the “future sales” window, but there was no need. “What's your price range?” he asked. The weather had scared people away, and I wound up with a lovely aisle seat in the orchestra section!

Interior of David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, New York
For the occasion, they were repeating the same works performed at their very first concert. Which made this performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony one that assuredly I will never forget: the first one I've seen live.

Snow covered bicycles, NYPD SUV, and bare trees, New York, New York
I opted for a subway ride back downtown. No cycling for me ...

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