I suppose, too, you could say it’s a hell of a town as well. That would be entirely appropriate. I am now in Berlin now and falling desperately behind on these posts.
I spent 3 days in New York before I left for 6 weeks in Berlin. I chose a (an?) hotel near Penn Station since I’d planned to take the AirTrain from Newark and didn’t want the hassle of negotiating my 50 steamer trunks, hat boxes, rolly bags, carry-ons, curio cabinets, shoe satchels and portmanteaux too many blocks to a hotel. Nor did I need a taxi driver to struggle with them (or judge me) so I thought, what the hey, stay near the train station even though several people had told me it wasn’t a great neighborhood (it was fine). I stayed in Koreatown just a block from Penn Station. In the end I did not take the AirTrain, I could not find it and like many American men, or possibly men in general (OK, I may be gay but I am still a man), I was too afraid, possibly proud, stupid, (take your pick) to ask directions. Why is this!?!? I took a taxi. It was supposed to be a “flat rate” It was not apparently.
It was maybe not the nicest part of town but it was more than serviceable. The hotel was good enough and while I did not eat at any of the zillion Korean restaurants it was not for lack of desire. My lack, it turns out, is more along the lines of courage. (I think you can begin to see a pattern here) I was too afraid to go into any of them. They were teeming with people, mostly Korean, who knew what they were doing. I mean, to a man or woman they, each and every one, had some obvious fierce determination when they entered any these places. I could not bear the idea of going in and dithering. “What can I get you, sir?” “Oh, um, well, I . . . how’s the . . . I dunno. Is there an, um . . . can I use a fork”
While I did not use the AirTrain to get in to New York I did manage to buy a Metrocard and use it on both trains and buses. One can imagine the intense pride I had in mastering something tens of millions of people within a 4 mile radius do 50 times a day without needing a pack of Rolaids ® to deal with the anxiety. The first time I used it on a bus I nearly had a crying jag when I finished navigating the entrance procedure (And it was a rigmarole—as I seemed unable to insert the Metrocard correctly into the slot despite 40 attempts, the bus driver to my relief and the relief of the 65 people behind me, yanked it out of my hand and inserted it herself). Fortunately masks were required and it was quite effective in absorbing my tears. Oh, and hiding most of my face. I covered my eyes with my hat.
My hotel was near the Fashion Institute, FIT to those of us in the know, (just sayin’) and there were many colorful and unique fashion “styles” one might encounter at any given time.
My friend Kate who was there in New York while I was passed St Patrick’s cathedral on her way to have dinner with me and told me she said a silent prayer for me nodding reverently (I assume, Irish Catholic that she is) as she passed. St Patrick’s is the seat of the archbishop. Timothy Cardinal Dolan is currently cardinal archbishop of New York and former archbishop of Milwaukee. He is also a world class bigot, jackass and all ’round intolerant and small minded SOB. Consider these tidbits from Wikipedia:
“referred to the non-profit support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests as a “phony victims’ group”
“In 2019, Dolan was reported to have received, together with other influential U.S. Catholic leaders, substantial monetary gifts from West Virginia bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who had resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct”. (He did not return it.)
I took a little cruise on the Highline which has really matured since my last visit with my niece Madeline who was then newly or about-to-be pregnant with my now 4 year old grand-niece Clara.
I really wanted to eat in Chinatown and coerced my friend Gail into taking me there. She got the recommendation for Joe’s Shanghai from a friend. It was a bit of a wait but worth it. The soup dumplings were beyond fabulicious. I don’t know what that sauce was but OMG. I was afraid to ask for a fork and used chopsticks which made my hand cramp up. I should use chop sticks all the time. I’d eat less.
All of the waiters we interacted with and the others I’d heard speak were Chinese. Or at least native Chinese speakers with strong accents. I became aware of the white Americans who went to great lengths to tell the waiters how delicious everything was. On the one hand I appreciate that they were thoughtful enough to do that. The guy across from us waited for quite a while until the waiter came back so he could inform the waiter how good the food was (Never mind the 90 million people waiting to get seated). On the other hand it seemed so, I don’t know, self-important. That the waiter have their good opinion was so important and somehow condescending. I just told the waiter thanks and fled.
Ashish suggested (in a manner that seemed more like a threat) that I go to the Met to see the Chroma exhibit which was a recreation of how statuary would have actually been painted in ancient times and various civilizations. It was mildly interesting but really, it just looked like the most unimaginative painting colors you could muster. I went also to MoMA with my friend Kate (who was also there from Milwaukee) where I got to visit some of my old friends, Richard Diebenkorn greeted us as we entered. He’s an all-time favorite. The next morning before my flight I went to The Ruben Museum of Tibetan art and history. Here Ashish would have been very useful. I can look at the stuff and read the explanations they’re providing but it would have been easier to just have him tell me. I’m super lazy that way.
Although on the whole the hotel was very tidy, this eyelash was in the elevator for the better part of a day. I want to try one on just to see how it feels. It seems so uncomfortable.
This is totally how I felt about getting on an overseas flight which I was doing in about 4 hours. And how I felt on it as well.