Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New York City: the Last Day

I'm now two days behind and playing catch-up. Looking out over the Hollywood Hills from where I sit at my desk, with a small breeze rising and the first glow of the sunrise yet to touch the city with its glow, I find it hard to get back to the constant flow of restless energy and the chill in the air of New York City. Ah, here comes the sun this minute, catching the windows on the slopes of the hills with the glint of gold...

New York, then. Sunday. Sunshine... We were delighted, leaving our small apartment for a newspaper and coffee run, to walk out into a beautiful, crisp fall day, perfect for the celebration of our anniversary. The sunshine felt like a special blessing after two days of cloudy skies and rain. We had booked matinee theater tickets for the afternoon, and were rather glad to hear that the show had been canceled due to a stage hands' strike: we would be able to enjoy the day out in the fresh air instead.

A subway ride up to Columbus Circle, and a lovely walk through Central Park up to the Natural History Museum.



The park was glorious, at its best--though we were surprised at how green the trees had remained, this far into the fall. That's global warming for you, I guess. Great crowds of families with children, strolling, cyclists, roller bladers, joggers... waves of them flowing toward us and passing us constantly from behind. We left the park at 77th Street and made our way up to 79th, where we had been invited for Sunday brunch by our friend Victoria, whose family had been theater friends with Ellie's family since the 1930s, and whose mother had for many years welcomed us to stay in her apartment on our vistis to New York City. Also on hand, Ellie's nephew, Danny, of whom we see too little.

So, lox, sturgeon, cream cheese, bagels, coffee... and good conversation. A true pleasure.

After brunch, we summoned our remaining energy and strode across the park to the Met--one of the most amazing places on this planet for anyone interested in art, archeology, anthropology, the history of human culture and the products of the human imagination. We started off in ancient Greece and Rome--a whole new installation--and were once more stunned by what those forebears of our Western civilzation achieved in marble, clay, and other media.



Here's the new central atrium for that period...



and the four graces...



Count 'em! We wandered on through Africa and Mexico, pausing here and there to admire what was once called "primitve" art--that now seems so sophisticated in its breadth of understanding of the universe and man's place in it. And could not resist a tour of the modern and contemporary galleries. Here's a big David Hockney...



...with myself posed carefully to obscure your view of it. (I earned the right, I think. I wrote the Abbeville Modern Masters book on Hockney.) I often wonder, in a place like the Met, how our modern and contemporary art will stand comparison with that of ancient Greece and Rome or, say, the Renaissance. Or the Baroque...



Such marvelous things they made! How much of what has been made in the 20th and 21st centuries will look as good five hundred years from now?

Well, it's an imponderable question, really, but my mind seems to like to play with it--usually, I have to confess, in disfavor of our own time. We left the Met at closing time and walked back down Fifth Avenue in the gathering darkness--distracted momentarily by the work of the window dressers at Bergdorf Goodman, preparing far too early for the Christmas season.



I hate to get commercial here, but they were doing a beautiful job--very Baroque--if not Rococo.

We enjoyed an extravagant anniversary dinner at Estiatorio Milos Restaurant in midtown, with lofty ceilings, excellent service and cuisine, and a good wine. Here we are...



...barely the worse for wear, it seems, for all our New York exertions. We ended our day and our stay in New York, fittingly, amongst the elbowing crowds and the garish lights of Times Square, and took the subway south to our temporary digs.



And finally, Monday morning, breakfast, apartment cleaning, and a taxi ride out to JFK. A surprisingly easy passage through ticketing and security, an okay airport lunch, and a long flight back to Los Angeles--with an enormous neighbor who spilled over into a good half of my seat. Ah well. A good thing I have learned to live through these experiences with at least a small measure of equanimity.

4 comments:

growingupartists said...

What a fascinating site. Is it legal to take pictures like that?

PeterAtLarge said...

Hello, guys. It's a fair question. So far as museums go, different ones have different policies. Most allow digital cameras, these days, and most without flash. How could they do otherwise? Impossible to enforce no-photo rules when everybody's cell phone takes pictures. That accounts for the museum pictures. On the other hand, I do confess to pirating pictures from newspapers, magazines, etc., where they let that happen. And once in a while from websites. My working assumption is that they;re there for the taking, or else the owner would take steps to prevent these minor thefts. My own justification is partly that I have only a small readership. If I were putting this stuff out to thousands (one day, perhaps!) or millions, I would be more carefuk with my attributions. And I usually apologize when I steal. Thanks for asking, and making me think about this once more.

PeterAtLarge said...

Hello, guys. It's a fair question. So far as museums go, different ones have different policies. Most allow digital cameras, these days, and most without flash. How could they do otherwise? Impossible to enforce no-photo rules when everybody's cell phone takes pictures. That accounts for the museum pictures. On the other hand, I do confess to pirating pictures from newspapers, magazines, etc., where they let that happen. And once in a while from websites. My working assumption is that they;re there for the taking, or else the owner would take steps to prevent these minor thefts. My own justification is partly that I have only a small readership. If I were putting this stuff out to thousands (one day, perhaps!) or millions, I would be more carefuk with my attributions. And I usually apologize when I steal. Thanks for asking, and making me think about this once more.

PeterAtLarge said...

Hmmm... I must be thinking double today. Sorry, PaL