Saturday, November 09, 2002

updates

Gah. I really am a blog addict! One of the things I missed (apart from not having the silly digicam with me) was not being able to write for the past few days. Anyhow, lots of things happened, so off we go!

on the road to NYC

I am really not one for long distance driving. The sheer length of confinement in a car drives me nuts, so when the projected drive from Ellicottville to NYC (5.5 hours) ultimately became 10 hours (with various stops to ohh, ahh, eat and pee) I was frothing at the mouth – quite unlike Sage who enjoyed the trip (breaking the law by refusing to use her baby car seat and preferring to act like a little contortionist all over me or Nikki).

We left the snow and found the last remnants of autumn along the road – the Catskills were gold and red, orange and yellow and at last I understood the phrase “purple hills” when the trees that had no leaves blurred into a lavender haze.

We must have passed through a trillion little towns with funky names – some derived from the old Indian place names, others from settlers who must have missed their old homelands and therefore named places after existing ones. Other were just mindfucks, like “Deposit” or “Fishs”.

Again I am struck by the vastness of space here (something that would be reversed later by my impressions of Manhattan). Endless hills, roads and forests and not a single person walking around (America = car-is-a-must-have).

Of the several places we stopped to eat at along the way, the best was dinner at the Boulevard Grill in Mahwah, New Jersey, with its Nouvelle Cuisine (think scallops on a bed of blue crab cakes with papaya wasabi sauce and blue cheese sirloin).

When we finally arrived at our lodging at Staten Island, we were just about ready to collapse. We made some last minute preparations for the next day, leaving Sage with her Granma. Yes, Nikki and I, both first-timers in New York, would negotiate Manhattan without any help, in the spirit of the Amazing Race.

“dean & nikki
married couple”


Bright and early the next day, we took the Staten Island Ferry got a chance to see the Statue of Liberty. Immediately, my preconceived notions about the scale of the thing were dashed cruelly into the cold waters. Lady Liberty was not so imposing, and in fact, looked kind of small and sad, despite its jaunty lime green coloration.

On the ferry, Nikki braved the freezing cold wind and water and stood at the prow for the entire trip, while I sensibly stayed within the warm confines (having forgotten my homeboy cap and macho black gloves in my excitement). Stepping off the ferry, I half-expected someone saying "Dean and Nikki, you are the first team to arrive."

Once on the southern tip of Manhattan, we had a choice of subways to take. We decided to take the red line going north to Times Square and paid the dollar-something fee. The subway is as grimy as we imagined, and once again, smaller than we expected. We could not help but compared it to Hong Kong’s MTR, or Japan and Singapore’s mass transit solutions – which were infinitely cleaner. It was distressing to realize that there was no lit guidepoints to show where you were on the line (unlike HK) and that you had to rely on the garbled announcements.

When we got off at 42nd St., we finally got the longed-for sense of awe. The first two things we saw were the lion’s head symbol from “The Lion King” musical and a wonderful ad for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (with the tag line “Have we Met?”). Turning left we found Times Square and we were in tourist heaven.

Especially when I discovered, along 8th Ave., a plethora of adult peep shows, bookstores and the like. Nikki and entered them all!

It was truly a melting pot of culture. We asked directions to a bookstore from a black man with funky hair (who took us to the Port Authority), were served lunch at Smith’s by a Bellorussian girl, were assisted jeans shopping by an Ethiopian woman (who was so beautiful I simply had to tell her so), and made unexpected eye contact with hispanics in the porn stores. Nikki was hit on the streets and shops by a variety of nationalities including Sri Lankan, European and God-knows-what (“Where from you pretty lady?”).

We found the Broadhurst theatre and were stunned to realize that “The Producers”, “Phantom”, “Chicago”, “Mamma Mia” and everything else were playing next to each other. We tried to scalp our extra theatre tickets and failed (we had total of four orchestra seats – sayang Vin!) to even give them away before the show.

“Into The Woods” was wonderful as a revival. Nikki and I were thrilled to find that they had added new songs and lyrics. Vanessa Williams was stunning as the witch. Different from Bernadette Peters, but equally charming.

Note on scale again: The theatres are small! All along I expected huge auditoriums (kind of like Radio City Music Hall)!

After the play, we fulfilled a fantasy and had dinner at Sardi’s – just Nikki and I. We paid just under $100 for the meal and coffee and 20% tip (sue me, I’m generous) and it was worth every damn cent. How often do we get to eat at Sardi’s anyway, right? Damn right. We had fun trying to identify all he actors and actresses based on the caricatures that festooned the restaurants.

By nightfall, the temperature went below my comfort level again – but I was delighted to dressed in my trenchcoat - so style won over comfort (though I bitterly missed my gloves). Took the subway and ferry back to the little daughter we missed for a day and collapsed in bed.

i’ll take manhattan

The next day, we had to decide on exactly where to go since it was impossible to see everything. Taking Rickey’s word, we opted not to visit the Met (next year, we’ll devote an entire week just for it), ignored Ground Zero (tama na yan please lang) and made for 5th Ave.

We looked at the statue of Prometheus at the Rockefeller Center (and was struck once more by the SMALLNESS of things – the skating rink you see in all those movies? Hey, the skating rink at Megamall is larger!) and looked inside the various shops there.

We had lunch at Cinema Café (fantastic prawns for me at earth-shaking prices) and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral (with the model of the Pieta), Sak’s and Tiffany’s all the way down to Central Park where we took a $34 hansom carriage ride. The hilarious Irish carriage driver told us lies about what actor lived where and how many statues there were in the park – all in good fun.

Then we hit FAO Schwartz and I went to toy heaven. A part of me will forevermore remain a child and I just went gaga over everything here (even their inane jingle). Sage and I played at the baby section and were joined by 3 other babies and their mothers. One of them, Rowena, even took pictures with her digicam and sent them to me (thanks!).

I realized though that everything about me had changed when the only purchase we had was something for Sage. Sorry Lego and all you funky games, daughter comes first.

By the time we returned to Staten Island, we were too zonked out to even consider going to a “nice” restaurant and zeroed in on a local White Castle, ordered 20 of their yummy burgers and various little things and chowed down.

So after everything, Nikki and I have revised our list of cities we want to live in. The new top 3 are:

New York - only if there is a good school and rent doesn't cripple us
Hong Kong
Seattle


bye bye nyc

We left the city the next day and got a last good look at it from the Palisades, across the Hudson. Then off to West Point, late lunch at Bear Mountain and finally home to Ellicotville – only to have to pack up for our flight to Las Vegas in a few hours.

Checked my email (too many to respond to), wrote this quickly (sorry again for grammatical lapses), and am now laundering our clothes, then packing our bags and stuff.

See you in a few (unless my dad has internet access).

It’s off to Sin City (and Pauline, Dino, Dylan and Xtine!).


notes

Vin – got some books but not those from your list. Jayce – I mailed them by priority mail Tuesday before we left for NYC. Noel – sorry, didn’t see Captain America Legend, you’ll have to go to bed with the Hulk again. Ate Cyn – completely forgot about the Visitor’s Center in Times Square in our excitement. Marco – gah! We also saw the Wild Arms 3 game for PS2. Carl – I hope the pages are coming along nicely!
Marc – got your mail, good going, will respond soon.

Kisses to Joseph and Maureen – will see you guys soon!



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