Bright Lights, Big City

Finding yourself in the concrete jungle

(page 2 of 3)

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The 9/11 Memorial and Museum and One World Trade Center are magnificent monuments commemorating the nearly 3,000 people killed Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at The Pentagon. The memorial pools, exhibition spaces and gardens were constructed in the footprints of the destroyed World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

Of all the art museums in the city — and there are many — the Metropolitan Museum of Art is my preferred choice. The first time I visited years ago, tears unashamedly welled in my eyes upon entering the Degas room and viewing his ballerina series. In my opinion, there will never be more beautiful and intricate artistry than the French Impressionist painters. Having spent much time in this wing on another trip, we just did a quick walk-through of the highlights, instead focusing on American, Egyptian and Asian art and the Arms and Armor collection. Of these, I found myself, surprisingly, most interested in the armor. 

I had planned to breeze our way through; but, of course, this exhibit was the one my boyfriend marveled over. Realizing we were stuck, I began to examine the art more closely. In truth, the armor was frightening at first: clunky metal, shielded faces and spear-tipped weaponry. Yet many were ornate and solidly constructed from the finest and strongest of materials. I imagined the intense craftsmanship behind each piece and then the fearless protectors that donned them — and how war and battles throughout history have caused action and reaction. I decided that these weathered bulks of metal were, in fact, art. 

For a subculture unique to NYC, and for the best entertainment in, dare I say, the world, a Broadway show is in order. We decided The Book of Mormon because of the combination of comedy, music and dance. For most of the show I was entranced, my eyes drawn only to the stage; but at one point, I pulled my gaze away to examine my peers in the theatre. Smiles played on their lips, feet tapped to the tunes and laughs erupted. For two hours we were consumed and happy — even blissful. In a time where the funding and value of the arts fluctuates, I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful gift it is to forget the outside world for a brief period.

Slice of the Good Life

It should be noted that I am a self-proclaimed foodie, while my boyfriend is not. I will say that his palette is developing. It just so happens that our two best meals during our NYC trip were both our cheapest and most expensive. 

Our first evening, we walked towards Times Square, having planned to dine there. A non-descript storefront held a window display rivaling Macy’s — albeit with food items displayed instead of fashionable clothing. Silver platters in varying heights showcased pizzas brimming with thinly sliced prosciutto, pepperoni the size of sand dollars, dollops of ricotta and heaps of vegetables. It was a defining moment. And we agreed that it was the most delicious looking pizza we had ever seen. Yet we proceeded to Times Square, where the options were crowded, chain restaurants. The magical pizza was still hot on our minds, so, dissatisfied with what the Square had to offer, we set off in search of it — without remembering clearly where it was located. Thirty-five minutes later, we found Bravo Pizza. We were ravenous, but it was every bit worth the walk. 

I am a seafood lover and, even more so, an oyster enthusiast. To this day — and likely for many more — a meal at The Grand Central Oyster Bar is my fondest. We warmed up with the Manhattan clam chowder, a hearty red broth brimming with seafood and perfectly cooked vegetables. The appetizer of calamari was crisp and lightly fried — not the least bit oily; the bluefish was buttery with hints of lemon; and the smoked salmon’s flavor juxtaposed nicely with the tangy capers that accompanied it. And even after that, the oysters stole the show. I slowly supped on each, savoring the briny sweetness between sips of champagne. A word to the wise: If Naked Cowboy oysters are available, choose them, and not just because of the name. 

Other dining options I can attest to and recommend include The Smith, Serendipity, Union Square Café, Marseille, The Plaza Food Court, Eataly, Magnolia Bakery, Mercer Kitchen and anywhere in Little Italy. You will be glad the Italian man on the street corner ushered you into his restaurant for generous plates of homemade pasta, fresh bread dipped in herbs and olive oil, and tiramisu that makes licking every corner of your dessert plate worth it. 

Claim to Fame 

On my birthday (which is also Groundhog Day), we attended a taping of the Colbert Show. I had stood in this line outside of the theater before and knew the drill; but the last time, the name out front had read, “Letterman.” While seeing Letterman was a great honor, and I respect his immense impact on the late-night TV industry, Colbert is more my speed. “Excited” was an understatement. While no one offered me backstage access or even sang “Happy Birthday,” I was granted a third-row aisle seat, which suited me as a present.

The show began with Colbert’s usual social commentary, Dr. Phil addressed the latest meme craze, Michael Bolton sang a Groundhog Day ode and one of my favorite up-and-coming musicians, Maren Morris, took the stage. As Colbert made his exit, he stood directly in front of me, close enough to touch. I wanted to, but didn’t because staff members had warned me to resist the urge. 

Family members and friends alerted me that I was on television. It’s a simple pleasure that doesn’t amount to much; but in one of the most crowded cities in the world, rows one through three at the Colbert show felt like stars. I was grateful for this show that so many people look forward to watching at the close of their days.

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