I'm in beautiful and chilly New York, which is still gleaming with snow after a flurry on Thursday. Am staying at the excellent Webber Apartment on the Upper West Side, with its views down Broadway towards Columbus Circle, and across the Hudson past the USS Intrepid to New Jersey.
So far, it has been a culinary delight, taking in trips to Le Marais for a super Steak Tartare and chips, a nice pizza place, Solo for dinner tonight, a shwarma place for lunch, a big cheese omelette at a brunch place near the park yesterday, and a phenomenal meal at Buddakan in Philadelphia before I headed up here (thanks again for the hospitality Coop and Erin).
Also I had the opportunity to see the (in)famous Gates in Central Park - a huge series of pillars supporting large squares of orange cloth. This was especially striking against the blanket of white and the clear blue sky... Wolfgang Volz did a better job than my phone camera could have.
Whilst it is visually impressive and presents the park in a new light, I found it to be no more striking than some of those photos of the glorious avenues of Communist capitals, lined with red flags as if every day is parade day...
Some of the weird and wonderful stuff that goes with any Freedman trip:-
- On the flight out, I had of course pre-arranged an upgrade (though US Airways did their best to deprive me on a technicality). This came in handy when I was accosted at the gate by a slutty-looking American single mum who reeked of alcohol, and was proudly telling me (whilst putting her hand rather too high up my thigh) that she hated flying and had to get hammered to be able to cope. Her poor son, though probably no older than 6 or 7, was visibly embarrassed though obviously used to this kind of behaviour. I have never been so relieved to know that on boarding the aircraft, I would be turning to the left, and she most definitely to the right.
- On the train from Philly to NY, I bumped into an English bloke I had met on Limmud over the winter. What are the odds? (Dan then beat that with a story of how he bumped into someone he knew in a souk in Oman - bloody one-upmanship, totally uncalled-for.) We had an interesting chat about saving the planet - his uncle Mayer Hillman delivered a talk on the environment at Limmud that I strongly disagreed with (more of which in a future posting).
- At the bar on Saturday night, to celebrate the leaving of an expat after a year of NY living, I met said expat and found he was a friend of Leonard Citron (Irish bloke from AJ6 Europe tour '97), and had actually been to my house for Len's surprise birthday party way back in the day. Small world.
- The building next door to Dan's is the Merkin Concert Hall. Dan - and I am sure most of you decent folk, have no understanding of why this was quite hilarious to me, as I can profess to having come across a merkin before (take this as literally as you dare).
Next posting from Oklahoma City, also a mountain of philosophical crap due to excessive attendance of engagement parties in recent weeks - watch this space.