October 27, 2018

Use It

I struggled up Mt. Hamilton today. My heart rate was higher than it should have been. When I'd pause, it wouldn't drop as quickly as it should have, either.

But it was a beautiful day, and I kept going.

I wondered whether I should keep going. But I kept going.

[Stubborn? Who, me?]

I wanted to take advantage of what might be the last warm day of the season to head for the summit. I've descended it in the teeth-chattering cold before.

I was alarmed at how hard the climb was; I wasn't trying for a speed record. It was the usual 4,895 feet of climbing over 39 miles.

Maybe that sounds daunting? But it shouldn't be, for me. How many times have I climbed it? [More than 35 times.]

The reason it was hard today was not mysterious: My last bike ride was four weeks ago. [Yikes!]

Use it, or lose it.

October 19, 2018

Exteriors, Familiar and Not

Where to, next? Central Park!

Ms. C was keen to see Belvedere Castle, but alas it was shrouded in scaffolding and closed for renovation.

We checked out the reservoir, the lake, and the turtle pond (where yes, we saw some actual turtles swimming).

Another request: Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Why not, from Brooklyn? I don't think I've ever taken the subway to Brooklyn before, but Google Maps led us to the right station.

We made our way to the World Trade Center site.

To the North Tower Pool.

I know where to find Paul's name. This is not something I would forget.

We walked along the High Line, from Chelsea to the north end overlooking the tracks at Penn Station.

On to Grand Central, to admire the nearby Chrysler Building by day.

A day to reflect on the old and the new, on what is here and what is not, before heading home.

October 17, 2018

The Art of the Subway

I had passed through the station many times before this little fella caught my eye, perched on a beam overhead.

Was this a rogue artistic statement? [No.]

There were more figures dotted about, and a larger installation below a staircase.

The subway system has a budget for art, I learned. We had some fun on a tour underground with a bona fide subway railfan.

Sure, I'd enjoyed the fossil replicas in the station below the Museum of Natural History. And I'd noticed the full-sized mosaics of revelers in the passages near Times Square. But there is real history throughout the system. The original lines were private, and the tile banners in each station followed their distinct color schemes of their owners.

More importantly, each station had a theme (localized to the neighborhood, in some fashion) to help riders recognize their stops. Not everyone could read, back in the day.

The Statue of Liberty is just barely visible beneath the bridge in the design at the Chambers Street station. The white tiles lining the walls were chosen to counteract the subterranean darkness. Despite layers of grime, they still reflect a lot of light.

A beaver, at Astor Place. It seems lucky that these pieces have endured in situ—not having been pried loose and stolen, nor defaced.

Our enthusiastic guide led us to some uncommon sights, like this intimate view of the tracks curving out of a station. We were standing, comfortably, behind a railing on the platform (not, as it might appear, on the tracks).

He made sure that we passed below the Roy Lichtenstein mural at the Times Square Station.

(A Roy Lichtenstein mural, in the subway?!)

Oh, the things you see when you take a moment to look around!

October 16, 2018

Interiors, Unfamiliar

It's easy to be overwhelmed by New York, with endless options for places to go and things to see. Sure, I have my favorites ... but when I visit with friends, it's the unexpected finds I relish most.

Like The Church of St. Francis Xavier, tucked into a neighborhood near Chelsea. I'm sure the area looked very different when it was built more than a century ago.

How many commuters, bustling through the corridors of Grand Central, take a moment to gaze up?

So many years ago, I would stay at the Plaza— a single room was (dare I say) a bargain during the summer months. Today, we eyed the Palm Court.

We're staying at an “affordable” Pod hotel, where they have refined the art of packing the maximum number of rooms into the available space. (“Affordable” is relative, I might add ...)

We explored a few galleries at the Metropolitan Museum, but popped into the Guggenheim just to admire the building.

One of Ms. C's “must-visit stops” was, of course, the New York Public Library. With some planning, we could have enjoyed a tour. The Rose Main Reading Room was packed (and very quiet, despite the prevalence of electronic screens).

The building is a veritable palace of books (though the stacks are hidden away). Nothing like this would be built today. Nothing.

An exhibit presented the work of Anna Atkins, the first examples of photographs (of seaweed) in a book. Remarkable, and ... who knew? (Not I.) For those who will not have the rare opportunity to study the physical pages, the library has shared them online.

From cyanotype, to high-resolution digital, to ... whatever the future holds.

October 14, 2018

Scenes of the City

Autumn in New York.

Staying in Manhattan is an extravagance, but so worth it.

Surprises await around every corner.

Work has brought me here for a few days, and of course I've extended my visit.

The skyline is less familiar to me now.

A dramatic new tower has risen somewhere beyond the New York Public Library, but ...

Will it age as well as the Chrysler building?

Or St. Patrick's Cathedral?

It's a transitional season—holiday trimmings are beginning to appear. The Christmas tree is weeks away, but skaters are already circling at Rockefeller Center.

October 13, 2018

Playing Around

Was I visiting during the off-season? Or is it the Disneyfication of Broadway? The pickings seemed slim.

I landed first at an Off-Broadway revival, the musical Desperate Measures, which turned out to be hilarious.

The story was fresh for me, as it seems I have never seen (nor read) Measure for Measure.

Next up was the play at the top of my list, Come From Away.

Last year, I couldn't bring myself to see this one. My chest tightened and my eyes brimmed when the passengers discovered what brought their planes to Gander. It was a few blocks from here, so many years ago, that I saw Evita with Paul.

Taking a break from musicals, I scored a ticket to a preview performance of The Lifespan of a Fact.

Seated next to a woman who had partied at Studio 54 back in the day, we were both puzzled about the venue. Evidently it began as a theatre, and to a theatre it has returned. The play was thought-provoking and funny, up to the (abrupt) end.

Late in the week, my chief biking buddy Ms. C joined me for a few days. “Pick a play, any play,” I said.

Kinky Boots, said she. And I'm glad she did. J. Harrison Ghee as Lola was amazing, and I had no idea that the concept was inspired by a true story.

The architectural details in these old theatres, lovingly restored, are a treat in themselves.

But why, oh why, are modern musicals so over-amplified? The lyrics were clever ... when I could make them out.

Four plays in one week—a new record for me, despite the slim pickings.

New York, New York.