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NYC Day 2

I’ve just walked home from the Public Theatre along St. Mark’s Place, which is what 8th Street is called down here in the East Village. What I’ve been missing, all these years I’ve been stuck uptown! It’s incredible, the number of kids on the street, the life, the shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, even hairdressers and tattoo parlours open and teeming at 10 p.m. America may be in decline, but you’d be hard pressed to notice on St. Mark’s Place on a hot Friday night.

Because it’s hot. The weather, so far, has been sublime. And I am having a fantastic time. That’s a pome.
The first thing I saw today, when I walked out into the morning, was a black man wearing a snazzy business suit and waist-length dreadlocks. Only in America, you say? Took the freezing subway up to the Metropolitan Museum, which has several interesting though small special exhibits; I went to Frans Hals and European Cabinets, Caskets and Cases 1500-1900. Both wonderful – the Hals showing me about the importance of brush strokes – and I remembered that yesterday, in the List exhibit at the Morgan, one artist had painted pictures of all his different paintbrushes. I’m still not a huge Hals fan, all those laughing ne’er-do-wells, but now I appreciate his craft.
And then, after the gorgeous boxes (I have a minor collection of boxes, because you can PUT THINGS IN THEM) and a great lunch in the sunny sculpture atrium, I went up to the European masters galleries and visited my old friends: Cranach, whom I know better now from an exhibit in Paris this spring, Caravaggio, whom I know from the exhibit I just saw in Ottawa with my mother; the Spaniards Goya and Velasquez and the almost-Spaniard El Greco, whom I know so much better after my trip to Spain in March. Now when I see the work of these geniuses, I understand more of what I’m looking at. It’s thrilling.
I really missed my friend Bruce, my art smart friend who took me around the Prado in Madrid showing me what I should look at, who took me to Toledo to see El Greco and to some godforsaken palace to see a rare Velasquez. The last time I sat in the Met sculpture atrium, it was with my beloved Brucie.
When I emerged, replete, it was so gorgeous out that I had to walk in the park, so I strolled to the west side. A man was playing “Somewhere over the rainbow” beautifully under an archway in the middle, so I sat to listen to his echoing notes, and was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude – for the day, for the city, the art, for my own DNA, because I feel it everywhere in New York, my own family on my father’s side around every corner. For this beautiful park, the great green safety valve for this insane city. And then as I walked under the trees, I saw something half buried in the dirt, a Dinky toy of a 60’s VW bus painted with psychedelic colours, Peace on one side and Love on the other. It had obviously been there awhile, so I took it – a gift from the city of my birth. Peace on one side and Love on the other.
Walked south through the park and bussed back, rested and read. I gather that Obama did well with his speech – that there was some fire, at last. “The Onion,” a satirical newspaper, had as its headline today: NEW GOP STRATEGY INVOLVES REELECTING OBAMA, MAKING HIS LIFE EVEN MORE MISERABLE. It says the Republican strategy is to make sure he’s re-elected so they can make “his life even more of a living hell than it already is.
‘For 3 years, the Republican Party has coalesced around the single goal of making Obama’s every waking moment sheer and utter torture,’ Senate Minority Leader McConnell told reporters.'” And it goes on from there – see if you can find it on-line. It would be funnier if it weren’t so true.
Further to that, I saw a play in preview tonight at the Public Theatre, called Sweet and Sad. My ex-husband’s ex-artistic director is now the Director at the Public, so Edgar got me a comp, the best seat in the house. Like many events happening now in NYC, it’s about 9/11, about a family gathering the day after tomorrow, in fact – it’s set on Sept. 11, 2011. The playwright Richard Nelson is very good at capturing family dynamics, the subtle digs and needling that have obviously been going on for decades among these siblings, but also their great love for each other. Many questions are raised, about the future of the country, the political system, the tragedy itself. “Why are the victims called heroes?” one asks, and another, “Why did the government compensate the families? When someone is shot during a robbery, the government doesn’t compensate the family.” They reminisce – maybe a bit too much – discuss – maybe a bit too much – but the ensemble acting is very good and sometimes, the discussion hit the audience so hard, the room was absolutely still.
And then I walked home through the circus that is St. Mark’s Place. The papers are talking bomb threats; my mother had left several anxious messages, so I called her to reassure her. If people here feel threatened, they’re sure not showing it.
P.S. Just before bed, I read today’s Times, which lists the highlights of things to see in the city – on and on and on, overwhelming. They list 3 things at the Met – different from those I saw, that I didn’t even know were on.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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