photo of the day (mom and clare take manhattan)
Clare and I took the train into the city to meet up with my very best friend from the 4th grade, Jody and her daughter, Adina. I haven’t seen Jody for ages and ages. The last time was when the husband and I traveled down to Miami and I took pictures and hung out on the beach while he worked. But I digress. You may ask why I’m posting an image of a dead rat on a sewer grate. Well, that was the first serious image I shot on our 2 day whirlwind tour of Manhattan. Think of it as a nature shot. My old boyfriend used to call them “urban rabbits.” Ok, moving on.
The thing about spending a lot of time visiting museums is that museums have are so many restrictions on photography. Personally, I think museums and art institutions and even artists need to re-think their photography policies. Especially, today, in the age of blogging. How is it that I can post and blog about the magnificence of the art I’ve seen and experienced if I can’t even take any pictures of the surroundings? I really wanted to spend time photographing the amazing internal structure of the Guggenheim from the top down, but you can’t. You can shoot it from the bottom up because standing in the lobby is about the only place you can take pictures but seriously, the view from the top down is the way to go. I know people probably shoot it all the time. But they are risking the wrath of the the museum guards and believe me, I am a museum guard magnet. I simply have to think about picking up my camera and placing it to my eye and I look up and there is a guard looking right at me. Damn. How do they know?
Completely unfulfilled from my inability to shoot anything at the Guggenheim, I shot the above picture “Dead Rat on a Sewer Grate” followed by “Monkey See, Monkey Do” as we passed by a shop on Madison Avenue with a window display of animal sculptures made from tinfoil.
We walked down Madison Avenue towards 81st Street and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is a much more photography friendly museum than the Guggenheim. There are some exhibits where photography is prohibited but you can still take pictures in most of the galleries. And I have. But today, I was having trouble finding the inspiration.
Our first stop was the Roof Garden and the Starn Twins’ installation, Big Bambu. There was the opportunity to walk through the exhibition on winding walkways made of bamboo and while I’m sure the views of the city from the midst of the structure were magnificent, height and I don’t have a great relationship. I used to get dizzy looking down from the window of the 12th floor apartment the husband and I had in Brooklyn Heights. So climbing a fairly rickety looking pathway up and through a fairly rickety looking structure wasn’t my cup of tea. Besides, it was very hot and humid on the roof, the girls were looking a bit ragged and the air conditioned museum galleries were calling my name. We went back inside and wandered through rooms of Impressionist Art and I got to breath in the colors of Manet, Monet and Van Gogh for barely enough time. The American Women in Fashion exhibit was amazing. But sadly, no photography there. There was only enough time for a very brief visit to the Egyptian Wing and since I’ve been there only about a million times or so, I waited out in the lobby while Jody, Adina, and Clare went exploring. Then it was time for the museum to close and we grabbed a cab headed for dinner in Chinatown with Jody’s cousin Hal and his lovely wife, Phyllis.
We made it downtown in record time. Not so surprising since it was Sunday in the city and traffic was at a minimum. We wandered around Soho and Little Italy while we waited for Hal and Phyllis who were enjoying the crowds returning from their weekends away, all trying to get into the Holland Tunnel at the same time.
Finally, they made it across the Hudson and we met up and headed to a restaurant on Mott Street for some dinner and catching up.
I can’t remember the last time I was in Chinatown. I’ve been a lazy tourist in the city and spend much of my time in a walkable radius of Grand Central Station. But it was nice to be downtown for a change. I’m going to have to increase my range next time we come in to the city.
Dinner was fun. Hal and Phyllis shared pictures and stories about their motorcycle trip to South Dakota. We talked and laughed and ate and had a lovely evening. Then we got the check and we all prepared to pull out our wallets and start dividing up the tab. Which for the 6 of us came out to a grand total of $71. Seriously. I kept wondering if they forgot to charge us for something. Afterwards, we walked around Little Italy a little bit before Hal and Phyllis headed back to Jersey and we grabbed a cab up to Times Square so Adina could walk around and see the sights.
I like to think of myself as a seasoned New Yorker. But really, if I was all that seasoned, would I even be walking around Times Square at 10 pm on a summer evening? Probably not. It was hot and crammed to the max with tourists. Not my cup of tea, but we weren’t there for my amusement. This was Adina’s birthday trip and she got to call the shots. Even if it did include thinking she was going to visit the MTV store at 10 pm on a Sunday night. By then, even the over-sized Toys R’ Us was closing for the night.
We squeezed through the crowds and walked from Times Square to the hotel up on 56th and 7th Avenue where we all collapsed.
Jody and Adina were up early the next morning with the intentions of getting some air-time on Good Morning, America, which shoots each morning from the Promenade at Rockefeller Center. Clare and I sleep in a bit and get breakfast before we all met over at the MoMA.
The MoMA is fast becoming my favorite museum. We saw a wonderful exhibit of Matisse paintings, the Women in Photography exhibit and wandered around the permanent collection a bit before we headed over to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for some lunch. Yes, I know. I go there all the time. But Jody and Adina hadn’t ever been there. And Ellen’s is a New York experience that someone from out of town should experience at least once.
Clare, as usual, amused herself by sketching and drawing until lunch came. She drew wonderful caricatures of two of the waitresses, who were delighted with her work.
I love Ellen’s.
Clare wanted to take Adina to see FAO Schwartz so after lunch, we headed over to Fifth Avenue.
It was hot but we walked and walked and Jody and I took lots of pictures.
When we had all had our fill of the toys and candy at FAO Schwarz, I suggested going back to the hotel and chilling for a bit before going out again for dinner. Jody and Adina had one last night in the city and Clare and I were heading back to Connecticut after dinner. We walked to hotel, put our feet up and took showers. The Manhattan Club has the most amazing showers!
We had dinner at the Brooklyn Diner on 57th Street and celebrated Adina’s birthday with ruggelah and candles. Jody’s friend Marc joined us for dinner and afterwards, we parted and they headed on to the Top of the Rock while Clare and I took a cab to Grand Central and our train back home to Connecticut.
Jody, if you are reading this, it was so good to be in the same place and the same time again, even if it was so brief. Your friendship is a gift that I will treasure always. You are an amazing person. I’m so glad our daughters got to meet each other. I am looking forward to meeting Rachel and having you meet Nick. Adina, I enjoyed spending time with you. You are beautiful, talented and have a great sense of humor. We will see each other again.
To close, a bit of inspiration from the MoMa.