May 09, 2011

NYC Observations, Updated 051311

Well, Iím back! Sorry for the paucity of blogging over the last five days, but Iíve been away Actually, the choir with which I sing performed at Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center in NYC on Sunday afternoon. We performed the world debut of an entirely new work for choir and orchestra and also performed the Mozart Requiem Mass in Dm (K.626). Surprisingly, the hall was nearly full--Iím told by MidAmerica Productions (the concertís promoter--our director is their principal Associate Conductor) that NY Philharmonic performances in that hall arenít always so well attended--and we actually got a standing ovation, which apparently isnít something to be taken for granted with NY audiences. In any case, we were all pleased with the performance, which went very well. As I sat onstage, one of about 165 performers, I realized that only a tiny portion of the population of the world would ever have the opportunity I was about to experience. We really do need to be grateful for whatever opportunities we have to create beauty and to care for others.

A few random NYC observations (Keep in mind, please, that I stayed in the Grand Hyatt, which is directly above Grand Central station, so most of my observations are confined to the Manhattan experience):

People are as friendly, generally, in NYC as anywhere else. However, when walking--and everybody does a great deal of that--they tend to adopt the ďsidewalkĒ stare and to shoot more or less straight ahead, never making eye contact with anyone else, but plowing through the mass of humanity swimming around them.

Despite the best efforts of Mayor Bloomberg and similarly RINO and/or Democrat busybodies, one can still ingest more than sufficient fats, salt and other food substances they deem bad for us. However, it is almost all more costly--often much more costly--than just about anywhere else.

The hotel room cost 4-5 times more than a comparable room in flyover country, was smaller than many flyover rooms, had only two twin beds, and was no better appointed or in any way superior.

The number of women wearing high heels--and I mean HIGH heels--on the sidewalks, subways and other treacherous portions of NYC (and thatís most of it) is truly amazing, and actually somewhat humorous. Iíve often been amused and amazed at the horrifying things women do to their feet in the name of fashion. NYC is surely a shoe and foot fetishist paradise.

Everyone in NYC smokes. I donít mean actually, but if you walk anywhere, youíre going to be inhaling substantial smoke from the many who populate the sidewalks, standing around taking a smoke break and/or walking, who do. There seems to be always someone upwind of wherever youíre walking smoking like mad.

The city is an odd mixture of the old, dirty, decaying and decrepit and the new and shiny, constantly changing from storefront to storefront, block to block, subway station to subway station
Several of my compatriots and I went to one of the reputedly finest pizza joints in the city. Feh. $32.00 for a small pizza and a salad shared by three. Decent salad and pizza, but cheaper and easily as good can be had much more cheaply and in greater quantity elsewhere.

Did the Empire State Building. Great view, but the experience is annoying in the extreme. Huge numbers of people visit constantly, and they employ huge amounts of those annoying little people-cattle chutes to funnel you in the directions that seem good to them. I havenít had so much hurry-up-and-wait since I was in the military.

Loads of police everywhere. In some areas, officers in tactical gear, replete with helmet, tactical vest, thigh holster, and AR carbine. The streets seem generally safe, but there are certainly the quaint and stereotypical characters one would expect to see.

Ground Zero remains more or less a hole in the ground with construction apparently underway, but barriers surrounding it, make viewing of, well, a hole in the ground, difficult or impossible. Sad, and an indictment of contemporary government that something three times as big and tall hasnít already been erected in the place of the twin towers.

I didnít realize that the Julliard School is right across the street from Lincoln Center. I also didnít realize that Carnegie Hall looks so--relatively speaking--small and old--very old.

Like Mount Rushmore, the Statute of Liberty is endlessly impressive and emotion-inducing to the patriotic.

New Yorkers will stand or walk within millimeters of anyone else, whether they have to or not. Personal space seems to be an alien concept in Manhattan.

The Intrepid Museum is pretty cool but expensive. If youíre a veteran, itís $17.00, but $24.00 otherwise. The Intrepid is a WWII Essex class aircraft carrier, and the hanger and flight decks hold a wide variety of aircraft from WWII to the present, including an SR71. Space on warships is always at a premium, but itís quickly apparent that people from earlier generations were, on average, smaller than we are now. A Concorde is also present, but access is more expensive still and limited to guided tours. Also present is the Growler, a rare, circa 1958 nuclear cruise missile submarine. Diesel-electric, it has two enormous tubular hangers on the foredeck. Two Regulus cruise missiles (crude and big by contemporary standards) fit in each hanger. To fire, the sub had to surface, roll a missile back onto the launcher just in front of the sail, fire, lather and repeat as required. Only two such subs were ever built and were obsolete virtually the day they first set sail. Iíve toured the WWII U-boat at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The Growler is much larger and more congenial for the crew in every way, but still pretty claustrophobic. Fascinating how quickly technology improves. The interior of the sub and its equipment looked very much like WWII tech, and of course, it wasn't very far removed from that era.

At one time, it was possible to identify Europeans by their dress. No longer. Everybody--except those who dress culturally--looks pretty American. Although, some of the women do give themselves away with things like black lace leggings under short-shorts, etc.

Driving in NYC must be one of the most blood pressure raising pursuits in the human experience. Iím glad I didnít have to deal with it. Parking must be exponentially worse. No automotive accessory is likely used more frequently and with greater fervor than the horn.

McDonaldís is McDonaldís pretty much anywhere. A three story McDonaldís, not so much. You order on the ground floor, and march up several flights of stairs to the dining area.

I lived much of my adult life in Wyoming, a state with fewer than a half million people in the entire state. Bizarre to realize that there are that many people, and more, within a few blocks of wherever youíre standing in Manhattan (and probably multiples of stories above you). NYC is surely unique and interesting, but Iím much happier at home.

Posted by MikeM at May 9, 2011 10:40 PM

It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to do NYC, no?

Our chorus and orchestra did Carnegie (Alexander Nevsky). Didn't hit as many places as you did; saw the UN, St Patrick's (we're RC) and took in West Side Story (the conductor was Levine). One helluva show when done by the professionals...

Posted by: dad29 at May 10, 2011 10:07 AM