Friday, March 02, 2007

Bottle of red, bottle of white (part one)

A sleepless night followed by an early morning drive to the airport should add up to a god-awful flying experience. Lucky for me, my travel karma was pretty good and I had a great flight out of the wilds of Milwaukee and the only bad thing that happened was that I arrived in Newark a tired camper.

It's an easy train ride into the city from Newark and my ride was greatly improved by conversation with an older couple from Virginia. They were up for the weekend and were very nice indeed. Their Southern charm and accents provided a nice easing into the hum and buzz of Gotham.

The Newark train took me to Penn Station where I met a great homeless guy, John. He was taking the No. 2 as well and I bought him his subway ride and settled in for trip uptown. He told me about what it was like on the streets after 9/11 and how for a while people actually took notice of him and the many other homeless people in the city. He talked about the haze and smell that hung over much of the city after the attacks.

He also told me how he saw the picture of a police officer that had harassed him before the attacks on a wall at a memorial service for those who gave their lives trying to save others - it had made him cry to realize that this man who seemed so mean had heroically gone into the towers when others had been coming out.

I left John with a few dollars and the sincere hope that life would treat him kindly and stepped off the train to emerge in the glory of the big city.

My friend Josh lives up at the edge of Harlem - just a block or so from the subway stop - so I was soon at his place. Eileen had arrived there earlier and had gotten a nap in already. It was the first time in several years that the San Francisco Three had been in one place and it was a nice reunion (clever pun for those of us in the know intended, of course). If you're scratching your head about the San Francisco Three, I'm afraid you're going to be stuck in the dark because that's a whole other story that's best told over cold beers at the local pub.

We didn't linger long at the apartment - heading right out to start the adventures - so my lack of sleep was shoved to the back to be dealt with later. The SF3 had a city to conquer.

First stop?


Good thing too, because I was so hungry I was ready to take on one of the legendary giant alligators in the sewers just for the chance to gnaw on some table scraps.

We scarfed some tasty burgers at a little joint in some hotel. Hell if I remember the name of either, all I know is that those were some damn good burgers. My travel karma continued to hold up and we not only just beat the rush, but seats opened up for us right after we ordered. Greasy burgers and fries in our bellies and Sam Adams beer on our breathes, we were ready for some culture, so off we headed to the MOMA.

As if their cool commercials and low prices weren't enough reason to love Target, they also sponsor a free night at the MOMA on Friday evenings. We timed it perfectly to catch the line just as it was being quickly funneled inside. Within a couple minutes of arriving, we were in the building staring down seven-foot red canvas with stripes, Lichtenstein comic paintings, Warhol soup cans, Pollack spatters, and a whole host of other modern art wonders.

Some of it was great, some not so great and some was downright awful, but it was Target's dime, so who were we to complain. Mainly, the trip to the MOMA was a time filler before we headed to a Cartier-Bresson photo exhibit at the International Center for Photography anyway and it fulfilled it's role perfectly.

Imagine that - a museum filled with some of the best modern art in the world, in a city filled with some of the best museums in the world, and it was still just filler to pass a bit of time!

The Cartier-Bresson exhibit was excellent. There were some other wonderful photographers displayed as well, but the main exhibit was essentially about Cartier-Bresson's scrapbook. It was amazing to see the people he was friendly with and the circles he ran in before the WWII. It's a who's who of the art world for sure.

It was also fascinating to learn that he had been arrested by the Nazi's and that it was assumed he had been killed. He wasn't and his resurfacing was an interesting tale.

There were a lot of photos to look at though and many were printed pretty small so it was a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to look at that many photos without sort of glazing over. Luckily for us, the SF3 are all highly qualified photo lookeratters and we easilly handled the challenge.

After the exhibit, it was off to meet Josh's new fiance (congratulations Josh!) for sushi in her neighborhood. The sushi was good and the sake flowed freely - an excellent combination. For my part, I was just happy that they had uni and that it was tasty. It doesn't take much to make me happy when it comes to sushi. I'm pretty sure I made myself a bit too happy by stuffing my face with fish, but everyone was polite enough to not say anything about it.

We went for cupcakes afterwards. I'm convinced that only in New York is such a thing possible.


Wendy said...

This blog entry is really, really making me miss New York. My favorite museum there is the Metropolitan. I've visited it every time I've been there. I finally went to the MOMA on my last trip.

So... when does the wine come into the story?

Shawn said...

I once skipped out of the Met on a high school trip because Scott Lacey lost his James Taylor tape and he really, really wanted another one. A couple of us ducked out and wandered the streets of NYC in search of a music store. If you're wondering if there was a music store anywhere near the Metropolitan in the early 80s...the answer is no.

I wish I wasn't so tired on this trip when we went to the MOMA. It's easy to loose focus when you're tired.

And...sadly...there is very little wine actually consumed in this story.

Slade said...

Aren't homeless people the most intriguing conversations? I miss working at the soup kitchen because of all the great conversation...the places they've been, the things they've done and seen, the college degrees that many of them hold.

Slade said...

BTW, you are looking quite handsome in that pic...that is you on the far left?

Laura said...

Is the title a Billy Joel reference?

Sounds like a great trip. Good friends make any place better.

Shawn said...

Slade - They are the best...sometimes. Mostly, they have sad stories, but often there's a lot of wisdom to be found in them.

And...ah shucks...yeah that's me over there on the left.

Laura - Yeah...couldn't stop myself on that one. It was a great trip.

Jurgen Nation said...

Christ on buttered toast, I envy you. You saw a Cartier-Bresson exhibit. I love him so much I want to change my last name to Cartier-Bresson. If they had a Tiger Beat for adult photographers, he'd so be my centerfold. I would carry around a small copy in my purse and say to anyone who would listen, "he is my hero."

I idolize him THAT MUCH. I know how weird that sounds, yes, but still. Adoration.

Shawn said...

J-N - Yeah...I can totally understand your love for Henri Cartier-Bresson. He's a frickin' photo stud and a half. He's probably the photographer who most influenced the way news and candid photos are taken today. Amazing.