Monday, January 8, 2007

The Baked Apple

Yes, I was away:

January 5 Chicago O'Hare to New York Kennedy

We took advantage of JetBlue's introductory fare to go to New York. The per person fare each way was literally less than cab fare between Kennedy Airport and Manhattan. The "equipment" was an Airbus A320, like a Boeing 737 except it rattles on take-off.

One plus was each seat had a screen on the seatback in front of it with DirecTV. Homer Simpson once said
Ah, the Luftwaffe; the Washington Generals of the History Channel.

but it was actually showing the story of the Autobahn.

Soft drinks and snacks were free, including Terra Chips, made from blue potatoes and the official snack of JetBlue.

January 5 New York City

Somehow Chicago can have one-train transit service between downtown and both airports but New York can't. Rather than a cab, we took the Super Shuttle. We were one of the first terminal pickups, so got to stop at all the other terminal pickups until the van was full. And we were the last to be dropped off, so we got to stop at all the other passengers' destinations. If you're not in a hurry, you might get a tour of parts of Manhattan you might not otherwise visit. On the way downtown, we passed H & H Bagels (as seen on TV).

We had booked a room at the Hilton New York through one of the online discounters. A guide book described it as a Las Vegas-style hotel, apparently meaning large numbers of rooms designed to encourage you to go out where you can spend money. It was actually quite nice, and an excellent location, but we would have traded a few square feet of closet space for room for a second bedside table with reading lamp.

It was late and we hadn't eaten since Chicago, so walking around the neighborhood we came upon Lindy's. One of the celebrity photos on the wall was of Jack Benny, whose comic persona would have been aghast at the prices. It was like going out for room service. Except for the price, I rate Lindy's corned beef hash acceptable.

January 6 New York City

As forecast, it hit seventy degrees here today. I packed shorts and a tee-shirt and wore them for a morning jog on Fifth Avenue. We got coffees and a bagel at Starbucks, which somehow did not have to charge NYC prices.

Last time we were in New York was October 2001, a trip booked before September 11. One morning of that trip we visited the ruins of the World Trade Center, stopped in at St. Patrick's Cathedral at mid-day, and then saw a matinee of The Producers. We revisited the WTC site today. It's changed, but not five years' worth. Back at the hotel, the recent movie version of The Producers was playing. As the song says, "There's nothing like a show on Broadway", but movie tickets or DVD rentals aren't "a hundred bucks a throw".

That night we went Tavern on the Green for dinner. It's a beautiful setting, right in Central Park. I'd wonder why a restaurant was built on park land, but compared to all the park land taken up by art museums in in New York and elsewhere, it's probably not so much.

After dinner it's on to the Metropolitan Opera for Der Zauberflote.
Julie Taymor's magical production of Mozart's sublime and mystical opera features bears and serpents, and, of course, a rotating cast of internationally acclaimed young singers, including soprano Isabel Bayradkarian and baritone Nathan Gunn. James Levine conducts most performances.

It also features a giant lucite cube, the sides of which form most of the sets. Julie Taymor's staging continues her riff on Mr. Bill. "What next, will the figures be moved by hand?" started as a joke at the expense of cheap animation but now it's at the expense of people in from the sticks hoping to see grand opera. We can hear grand opera anywhere, and see it staged idiosyncratically by our regional companies. Impressive singing, though, especially Erika Miklosa as the Queen of the (I could sing these Fs all) Night.

January 7 New York City

The Times for Sunday carried this Editors' Note. In sports, both the Giants and Jets lost.

Then it was off to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On the way in a gentleman handed us flyers explaining how John Cabot was the real discoverer of America and salvation is through Faith alone.

We went to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum for the Design Life Now exhibition. I noticed that designers dislike our suburban homes but most of what they draw up looks like an airport terminal.

Back at the hotel, on the History Channel: Rudolf Hess.

For dinner we took the subway to Cookshop in Chelsea. Seemed like a good time to find out if I like rabbit. Not so much, it turns out, though I'm sure it was very well prepared. My wife's opinion is more informed in culinary matters, and she was favorably impressed.

On the way back we stopped at Strand Bookstore, a large used books store that now claims "Eighteen miles of books". I couldn't resist buying a few, even though I've been trying to cull my collection down to the amount of shelf space available.

January 8 New York City

We stopped at Barneys, my wife to shop, me to see if it really has "skinny mirrors" (as seen on TV). They do have enormous mirrors, perhaps eight by four feet, leaning up against the columns. We thought our reflections might look a little thinner.

We took a taxi back to Kennedy Airport, via the Van Wyck (as seen on TV). No traffic delays; JetBlue gave us an early check-in bonus. Terminal 6 was showing some wear and tear but has a good selection in the food court.

Flight and drive home uneventful. One of these trips, I'll have to try blogging at an internet cafe.


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