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Archive for the ‘Places to Go’ Category

Checking Off a New Box

Thirty. Three. Oh. The Big One. The end of one’s twenties – those years of school and beginning to negotiate one’s way in the grown up world without school. My big three -oh was last Friday, the 15th. I am no longer one of those irresponsible twenty-somethings. I’m Thirtysomething. There used to be a whole tv show dedicated to people like me. Now, even thirty is old since we dedicate shows to being Quarterlife .  

Mr. Adventure, knowing my desire to pretend the day didn’t exist, took me to the Big Apple, New York City. New York City is, to me, the most amazing city in the world. I say this having traveled to such glorious places as Rome, London, Dublin, and San Francisco. I love all of these places, don’t misunderstand. New York, however, is magical to me. New York is a city of contradictions. The dirty, grittiness of the streets contradicts the pristine, high class attitude of the restaurants and museums. The culture of the the theaters, opera, and symphony contradicts the various strip clubs, pornography stores, and homeless people on the streets. No matter how long it has been since my last time in New York, going back always fills me with a sense of excitement, awe, and comfort. I have never lived there; I barely understand what is considered uptown, midtown, and downtown. I have no idea how to negotiate the city on my own. However, none of that is daunting. The people push and shove, but the city is alive. You can almost feel it breathing, moving, heaving under the weight. This energy is what makes New York so unique.

The whirlwind weekend included a trip to the Museum of Modern Art, where we spent three hours wandering through the various rooms and taking in a lecture on the evolution of Pop Art in New York. The MoMA is an amazing place. The works inspire thought, regardless of whether you like them or not. Magritte, Monet, Warhol, Pollock, and Van Gogh fill the walls. Le Corbusier’s sketches suggesting removal of individuals from the streets hang next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic works. Walking amongst this brilliance gives you nothing but a sense of your place within the larger intellectual community. These works remind us that whether or not you like a particular painting or sculpture or design, these individuals got us to think about ideas and images. They managed to make us look at the world in a whole new way.  The genius of these artists is not their individual works, but the thoughts and feelings they inspire in us – whether it be hatred or adoration. Ahh, the MoMA is a wonderful place.

Oh yeah, and they let you take pictures of the works.

Lunch on Friday was at the Carnegie Deli. Piles upon piles of corned beef for Mr. Adventure and pastrami for me. All of this was smothered in Swiss cheese and layered upon some of the most sumptuous rye bread to make the most delicious open-faced Reuben you could imagine. Halfway through, the sandwich won, and my stomach could take no more.

That evening, we went to see Rent . Alas, a classic musical from my youth is about to see its last days on Broadway. Although we have seen Rent numerous times over the last nine years and own the DVD of the movie, watching it live on Broadway has a certain electricity to it. Indeed, in watching the story, I never cease to be fascinated over how rapidly our society managed to evolve in the last twenty years. When Rent first opened in 1996, the storyline involving homosexuals, drug addicts, an HIV/AIDs was both groundbreaking and shocking. The story itself takes place in New York City in the late 1980’s. In the 1980’s, people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were given a death sentence. Today, we have people who haved lived with the disease for twenty years or more.  Treatments have changed. Today’s youth is seeing a resurgence in HIV/AIDS because they do not fear its consequences any longer. The world is not safer for these medical achievements, yet it is different. The New York City of the story no longer exists with squeegeemen and fear of violence on every corner. The world is a different place, and Rent must be placed in its historical context. A historical context living in my memory.

Saturday afternoon and early evening were spent eating with family and friends who live near or were visiting the City and window shopping in Soho. Saturday night, however, we hit up Connolly’s in Times Square to see Black 47. (For those of you in the Hartford area, they will be at the Half Door on February 29, 2008.) Black 47 keeps getting better and better. Although I may not always agree with their message, the music on the new album is reminscent of their older sound with a new twist on it. As always, Kirwin’s voice is distinctive. Having seen them many time, but never at Connolly’s with their hometown crowd where the performance far surpassed their tour concerts, which is saying something. The band fed off the crowd while the crowd fed off the band. The pure pounding rock sound with its Celtic flavor reinvigorated me after a long day of food and walking. It was like a jolt of espresso to the system, a two hour burst of energy inducing perfection.

Sunday, the trip wrapped up with brunch in the West Village and some more wandering around. Boots were purchased on sale at Shoegasm . A flea market in Chelsea was visited. Some wakling around watching the everyday lives of New Yorkers was done. We headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags for our train ride home. As we emerged from the Subway station, we heard honking and screaming and saw backed up traffic. We looked around and were met with this:

An impromptu parade by people whose native homeland or place of family origin had just declared independence. Flags representing Kosovo and the United States flew proudly from cars, trucks, and the hands of revelers. T-shirts proclaiming “Thank you US!” were wedged through the windows of all manner of vehicles and adorned all manner of people – young, old, men and women. Strangers on the street joined the melee with whoops of excitement and joy. Once again, I was led to realize what an amazing city New York is. Where else in this country do we see such warmth and such an embrace of those who may not have been born here? Where else does this kind of gratitude for our country manifest itself? In a city built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants, the denizens and visitors alike still welcome, perhaps more so today, the world’s tired, hungry, and poor. As I gazed upon the scene, I realized that my eyes were tearing up in joy for these strangers. I was an American in America’s city. Forget what they say about New Yorkers. True New Yorkers are generous of heart in their own bursque, hurried way.

As we rattled towards Penn Station in one of the infamous New York cabs, I reflected upon the weekend. I am no longer a target demographic in the 18-29 year old bracket. I may continue to be bombarded by beer advertisements and tech toys geared for those in the disposable income bracket. However, I am not the audience. I get to check off a different box – one that bumps me into a different type of adulthood. I am a thirty year old, and I am fine with that. Cheers to checking off a different box.

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