Saturday, February 5, 2011

New York City October 2010 Part IV

Since I'm going to the MGM Grand tonight to see Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza here in Las Vegas, I figured I'd take the day off from work. I spent entirely too much time working last year, and I told myself I was going to take more time off this year to A) avoid burning out and B) get out to more shows, events, and road trips. So tonight I'll be seeing basically the 2011 model of the US version of Whose Line Is It Anyway. In addition to Carey, there will also be Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, Jeff Davis, and Kathy Kinney. Other performances feature some different performers, including Greg Proops. These performances (several scattered thru late January and early February) are being filmed, and will start airing on the Game Show Network (GSN) here in the United States beginning March 28. Looking forward to it.

Since I have the day off, I also told myself I'd get some writing done today. I've got so many unfinished stories to put up here, as well as many stand-alone ones, but I like the travelogue format that this seems to have turned into, so for now I believe I will stick with that. Recently I've been recounting my mid-January trip to Florida, but I think I'll change things up and switch back to my early October trip to New York City. When last we left our intrepid traveler, he had just made it to The American Museum Of Natural History, accompanied by his New York-dwelling Mom...

We finally made it into the museum at around 10:30AM, and due to Mom's intelligence and library savvy, we managed to avoid waiting in line to get in, and also were able to get in for free, using passes she had borrowed from her local library. If you live near any kind of big museum, look into your local library to see if they have anything like that. The library near my Mom's house in Long Island offers passes to many of the major museums in New York City. There are limits and restrictions of course, but it is definitely worth investigating if you are at all culturally inclined. Libraries aren't just about books, kids...

As I'd mentioned in Part III of this NYC Trip story (yes, I've linked to it twice in this blog...sue me...), I had been to this particular museum many times as a youngster growing up in New York, either on day trips with my Mom, or as part of a field trip for school. I always enjoyed the place, and it was with a mix of nostalgia and appreciation that we wandered the many cavernous exhibit halls contained within the walls of the mammoth building. One of the nice things about the museum is they don't frown on picture taking as most other museums do. Granted, many of the other museums I go to are art based, and having flashes go off in immediate proximity is detrimental to the condition of the paintings, so I understand, but still, it's nice to be able to take pictures of the exhibits.

It isn't just what's on display at the museum, but how it's presented that always appealed to me. I love dioramas, and I really appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making the pieces. I love all of the little details, and the perspective that you get by being able to take in an entire scene of whatever era and culture you happen to be looking at. This photo illustrates how a group of Native Americans used to hunt buffalo by herding them into an area where they were froced to fall off a cliff, which seemed rather clever and efficient to me. Why waste time and effort, and potentially injure yourself or lose your life trying to kill one buffalo, when you can relatively risk-free knock off a bunch at once, enabling you to clothe and feed an entire tribe or village for a significant amount of time?

Also in the course of wandering the insanely huge museum, we stumbled across a very familiar looking animal, which answered a question that had been lodged somewhere deep in the dark recesses of what passes for my mind for many years, freeing up some valuable space for other useless information. One of the few happy memories of junior high school that I have is an art class I took in either 8th or 9th grade with a fantastic teacher named Mr. Kelly (and I just pulled out my Jr High Yearbook, and no, it doesn't give his first name...I see a Google search in my future..). One of the projects we did was to do a large pastel drawing of an animal of our choice. I found some interesting one somewhere (remember younglings, this is the dinosaur pre-internet days, so no going home and Googling "interesting animals"...), and did what I thought was a decent piece. No, I have no idea whatever happened to the piece, but I was happy with it at the time...which was not something I could often say at that stage of my life. However, I had also long forgotten the name of the animal, until suddenly there it was right in front of me in the museum...the gemsbok (told you it was an interesting one...).

After over 2 hours of exhibit examining and slow walking, plus the 2 hours we'd spent meandering thru NYC going from Madison Square Garden to get up to the museum, we were a little tired and hungry. Fortunately, the museum has a wonderful cafe located in the basement, filled with excellent food and plenty of variety. Thankfully, the variety included a healthy dose of Italian based choices, so I was going to be happy. Nothing better in the world to me than good Italian cuisine, especially pasta with a nice marinara sauce and some meat to go with it. As many of my friends will attest, I'm simple.

After refueling in the crowded cafe, we made our way back outside into the brilliant sunshine beaming down onto New York on this amazing early autumn day. The temperature was in the low 70's, absolutely perfect for walking and enjoying the sights. This picture was taken just outside the front door of the museum, looking north up Central Park West as we emerged into the daylight. Just over 3 hours had passed since we entered the museum, but since we got an early start on the day, we still had plenty of time before we needed to make our way back out to Yentaville. So seeing as how it was a truly beautiful day, and I don't make it back to New York that often (this was my first trip there in 2 & 1/2 years), and I was having a nice relaxing day hanging out and talking with my Mom, we decided to take a leisurely stroll thru Central Park on our way back downtown. Mom doesn't make the trip into the city too much without me, so it's good for her to get to places in New York she doesn't see too often.

Central Park is one of my favorite places in Manhattan. A true oasis from the concrete jungle that is what most people think of when they picture New York City, this sprawling man-made landscape is the perfect respite from the non-stop chaos this is New York City proper. It is possible to get immersed in it enough to actually forget that you are in the middle of the busiest city in the world. There are places you can get to deep inside it that make the constant din of human and automotive traffic almost disappear. What makes it most interesting though is when you can see the dichotomy of the lushness of Central Park against the backdrop of the striking architecture of New York City. On a stunningly wonderful day such as this, the rich greens of the trees and the deep blues of the skies make for a terrific contrast with the sunlit tans and stone greys of the buildings.

There is some wonderful gothic architecture within the confines of Central Park as well. Bow Bridge (and from researching, I've found it's as in bow-tie, not as is in bow-down...I always wondered about that...) is a perfect example of that. Crossing over the mid-section of The Lake (the middle of the 3 main bodies of water in Central Park, with The Pond to the south and The Reservoir to the north), it is an arch bridge that is beautiful in its style and simplicity; a fantastic example of form and function merging perfectly. And it provides some of the most amazing views of the city on a day such as this. Being me, I chose to put a shot up here of the atypical view (facing southeast), because the view in the other direction, while terrific, is too overused for me to want to post it here.

There is much more to this day's wandering to be discussed and photo-illustrated, so I'll pause the telling of it here for now...

Blog Post Soundtrack; Colonel Claypool's Bucket Of Bernie Brains, Public Enemy, Mondo Generator, Bill Hicks, Pearl Jam, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade (live), Dropkick Murphys, Fun Lovin' Criminals, King Missile, The Mars Volta, The English Beat, Deep Purple (live), Bob Dylan, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, Parliament, Primus (live, covering Rush), Anthrax, Monty Python, Fear, Goldfinger (covering The Misfits), Björk, The Misfits (live), Ted Nugent, Beck, Hungry For What, Cold War Kids, Metallica (live), Jimi Hendrix, Tchaikovsky, Sublime, Black Sabbath (most of Vol 4, most of Sabotage)

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