Some friends and I decided to take a couple of days in New York to see the Albert Paley sculptures sited along Park Ave.
New York is stressful fun for me but it's easier to go by train rather than plane . No lines, no security, no cramped seats. And I
can see the scenery which, going from Portland to New York, is plenty of ocean and marshes. It's cool to see cranes and herons
standing in the water. And the approach to the city once I'd left Connecticut is appealingly industrial with the skyline spread
out. I left the train and walked through Penn Station trying to mentally prepare myself for the imminent chaos and hubbub. As I
got on the escalator I noticed a man coming down the other side wearing tight black leather pants, no shirt and long stringy greasy
hair. His pale stomach hung well over his belt. He was wearing a black suede cape fastened at the neck with a padlock. He had
multiple(and I mean multiple) piercings in his mouth and lips and at least eight silver hoops in each ear. A couple of steps behind him
was a tall, thin African American man wearing a well tailored three piece suit. All in purple. Pants, vest and jacket. His shirt was white
and he wasn't wearing a tie but I bet he owns a purple one. I'm assuming he was wearing purple suede shoes
Wow. New York City. Just like I imagined it.
The Paley installation is set up in the median strips along Park Ave from 52nd to 67th. Except for the first piece you can get close to all of them
as they're beside the crosswalks. We zig zagged up the avenue checking out each one. It was a beautiful sunny day and the sculptures, some
painted, some with a raw cor-ten steel surface fit nicely into that environment. The pictures I took aren't so great but there is a series of short videos
on YouTube that document the whole process very accurately http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41MwCRERBQQ The work is there into November
and I recommend seeing it.
This wasn't supposed to be a food trip but it quickly turned into that.
Felidia: This is Lidia Bastianich's classic Italian restaurant and the food was as good
as always. You do however pay a price for low volume and white tablecloths.
Eataly: This is a series of restaurants and food stalls set in an old department store. It could be
gimmicky but works because the food is so good. It's a noisy crowded NYC scene and we were about to give up
on finding a place to sit when we noticed empty seats at the fish bar. Serendipity. The place was
mobbed. Salmon sashimi from Vancouver was excellent and highly recommended by our server. He said this
farm raised salmon was "specifically raised to be eaten." I felt like saying, "As opposed to what? Doing tricks in
the circus?" Are farm raised salmon bred for some other purpose than being eaten? I decided to be polite and smile.
ABC Cochina: This is Jean-George Vongerichten's take on casual Mexican food and it's great. The noise level however
is very high. We got lucky in that the only available table was outside and, it being a nice evening, jumped at the chance.
So, great food outdoors and good people watching.
Momofuku: I went to the first one a few years ago and have been curious to try the second. The food was crazily bizarre
with combinations that made no sense until I tasted them. It was some of the best food I've had in a while. What about the noise level?
Insane. Two people can lean into each other and shout and make themselves heard. How a table of four or more could have a conversation
is beyond me. A friend who lives in New York said later, "I don't get it. I think all the noise must mean that it's a happening scene. It was all
the rage back in the 90's to have super noisy restaurants but then they disappeared. Now they're back." Be forewarned. The food is worth it.
I'll go back but at 5 or 11. It had calmed down by then.
James Turrell: This show at the Guggenheim is worth seeing. I've always found the Guggenheim claustrophobic and it's now even more so because
Turrell has enclosed the open circular space with a gauze like fabric that highlights a subtly changing pattern of light. You can lean back on specially
designed benches or lie on a mat on the floor and look up towards the oculus at the top of the building. It's beautiful and designed to be a peaceful
experience but………………you're in a crowded space sitting or lying next to total strangers who are either discussing job opportunities, Kim
Kardashian or aggressively shushing each other.
New York City. Just like I imagined it.