Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving in New York City

Another trip to NYC. And we were really looking forward to it. No disappointments at all!

We saw, in no particular order, family, friends (one of whom we hadn't seen in 30+ years!,) places, John Lennon (sort of,) new stores and lots of restaurants.
But first, the journey. Monica (please visit her web site at and I traveled to Laguardia Airport and despite enduring a ground hold in Dallas, due to wet weather in New York, arrived just about on time. I love taking pics out of airliner windows and this time we were treated to a beautiful light and color show off the port wing.

The next deal was the taxi ride to the hotel.What with the rain and arriving during rush hour, we figured we were in for a long and expensive trip. In fact, as you can see, the adventure started with plenty of affirmation that our sojourn would be all of the above. But, it turns out the taxi driver (yep, the same one with an expired taxi and limousine license) picked a route that I never would have (Queens Mid Town Tunnel) and BAM, quicker than you can say "Lagasse," we were at the hotel. That driver got an OK tip.

Monica had said before the trip that she really wanted to see the John Lennon exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of  Fame annex, so off we went to So Ho.
Turns out that John must have heard Monica from the beyond, as he presented himself to us exclusively, as you can see here from the irrifutable photographic evidence.
Just kidding, as though you didn't know.
However, the exhibit was excellent and the music outstanding. the most poignant part (I know I might lose a few of you here) was at the end where there was a large pad of white paper hanging from the wall with an appeal to  write a message advocating stricter gun control and include your signature. When the paper filled, it would be sent to Congress. The paper was placed to the immediate right of a paper bag containing Lennon's clothes and contents of his pockets when he was shot. These effects were presented to Yoko the following day by the NYPD. I had no trouble signing the paper.

We love to walk around the city and fortunately so does our son Brett. After the Lennon tour, we stayed in and around SoNO and SoHo. The shops and street activity were amazing (as it is all over the city.)
This shot was taken on the main floor of the Pearl River Department store, a place that features Asian goods of every description. The shot proves that you need eyes on top of your head, as well as in front, side and behind. These paper parasols were hanging from the ceiling.
The store, located on Broadway, has three floors and is a block deep. You could get lost in this place!
Finally, after a long day of pounding the pavement, Monica and I decided a good Italian meal would be great. So, while Monica was perusing the goods in a wonderful fabric store located in the Garment District, I found a seat and pounded on my iphone to discover a restaurant. And find I did.

La Zie, located in Chelsea, specializes in dishes found around Venice, was terrific! The appetizer was the best part, as you could order a sampler. Out came about ten small dishes with everything from fresh sardines to grilled squid. Sort of like Italian tapas. Also reminded me of Chinese Dim Sim because of all the little white dishes we were accumulating on the table top. The picture here of course isn't the restaurant. It was taken (from E. 23 St with Madison Square Park just behind the subway stairs) on our walk to pick up the number 6 subway. You can always tell you're in NYC during a holiday period by finding the Empire State Building. Just look for the colors. This time, yellow and orange for Thanksgiving.
Now, what would a trip to NYC be if it didn't include a visit to the center of the known universe (aka, Grand Central Station?)

 The funny part of this picture is the sign which emphatically states that sitting on the stairs is STRICTLY forbidden! But, everyone sits there. Maybe mesmerized by the beautiful main rotunda, or people watching or just waiting to meet a friend or relative at the precise center of it all, the clock. That's why we were there, to meet Leslie (and Harry.) We hadn't seen Leslie in over thirty years and we had a wonderful time catching up and meeting up with Ben (and Betsy,) our other college chum.

One day, Brett suggested we take a stroll on the Highline. Sure I said, quickly followed by, "where?"

Little did I know, that the abandoned elevated railroad tracks on the far west side, the ones that I had walked under countless times (wondering where the heck they really went to) was converted into a long thin park two stories above the streets of Manhattan. As did the long disused railroad tracks, the park now winds its way over the streets and under buildings near the Hudson River.

Originally built to bring food directly into the city, the park is now a pedestrian only mall. Complete with an outdoor coffee shop, free Wi-Fi, beautiful plantings and unexpected views from a unique vantage points, the park was enjoyed by people strolling in the really fine late November weather.

I love the colors of the reeds surrounding the small trees.

Brett and Monica, looking uptown from the Highline. Uh, wait a moment. They're actually looking downtown. I'm looking uptown.
I know, who cares which way. Just wanted to get it right.

New York is full of unusual concepts. Here's one of them. This is a "Pop Up Store." A place that literally pops up and then is gone withing a couple of months (intentionally, not out of business for you wise guys out there.) This is the store, in the old meat packing district, for the magazine called Wired. A really interesting place featuring cutting edge concepts in computers, bikes, games and all things new. But you'd better hurry. It closes on December 27.

 Next up, a picture, that taken out of context, might lead you to believe you've landed in the unknown. Just a poster, for something that I can't remember. But I loved the poster!

As I said before, you really need eyes in front, on the side, behind and above your head in NYC. Now let's add one more place. Under your feet. While crossing a street downtown, I noticed two photographers taking pictures straight down. One look and I knew they were onto something interesting. Having to admit that I was about to copy them, I complimented them on their powers of observation (figuring that entitled me to horn in on their discovery) and promptly found myself engaged in conversation about their new lenses.They had just come from B&H Photo and were trying out their new glass (and very impressive it was, Nikon 24-70mm, f2.8.) As I had just come from the very same place (although I had escaped with my life-I purchased nothing,) we conversed for several minutes before they left and then I started shooting the wet pavement. I later learned that during this time, Brett turned to Monica and said, "we've lost Dad." Monica, without hesitation, replied, "Oh don't worry, he'll show up soon." She knows me well, this one!

Finally, I leave you with one more shot and a regret that I didn't get in line with the rest of these folks
This is the West Village and that innocent looking store is the Magnolia Bakery. And New Yorkers don't line up for much, except maybe the cross town bus.
Now, you may think that your fine city has the best cupcake bakery in the world (tucsonans take note- our few cupcake locations are puny and feeble compared to this one,) but you're wrong. I had some really good cupcakes on this trip (thanks Jim and Ann Marie) but Magnolia is, well, Magnolia. You'll have to try it yourself.
And if you do, drop us a line. Monica and I wouldn't mind joining you.


James Boehme said...

Nice shots. Well laid out and very informative. It looks like I am going to have to practice before I can start posting again. Nice job Leigh.....Jim

Leigh said...

Hey thanks Jim. It was fun because it's such a fun subject.

Monica Surfaro Spigelman said...

We've been lucky on these trips back to NYC....not just because we're seeing everyone we love but also because NYC weather has been kind to us. The days were bright and the temps not too bad. And I got to see John Lennon, Vermeer, family and fabric shops all in the same visit!