Sunday, March 25, 2018

March 16, 2018 New York City Restores My Faith in America (My Broadway Play of a Day)

It is just past noon and by a minor miracle I made it on time to the ferry that takes you to the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, Chrissy and Patty are not on this boat and I have no idea where they are. What a crazy fucking day this has already been. But I should probably start this story when I last saw them...about 12:15 last night.
There they are...waiting for the downtown F train to Brooklyn. My Aunt Maryann and I are waiting on the platform across from them for the Queens bound F train. I have already planned the rest of my night in my head. Back at Maryann's by 1 am. Enjoy a couple of veal cutlets, asleep by 2 am. Perfect. Not so fucking fast...which is exactly how the F train was running due to night time construction. The F train ran on the local tracks which added another 20 minutes. It stopped in between stations multiple times. Once it reached a station, it sat there for 5 minutes before departing the station. Then it decided to run express from Roosevelt to Forest that meant it was skipping our stop at Woodhaven. So we got off at Forest Hills and waited and waited...finally a local R train showed up. At Woodhaven Blvd, I paid a pirate taxi guy $10 to take us one mile to my aunt's house. I was too tired to eat veal cutlets, so I settled for coffee cake and a glass of milk. Don't judge me, I was at my Italian Aunt's house...I had to eat something. I finally went to bed at 3 am.
I woke up at 7:30. I had to meet Chrissy and Patty in Brooklyn by 10:30 at the latest so we could catch the noon ferry to the Statue of Liberty. No problem. I took a shower and my aunt was still sleeping. So I made myself some breakfast. I thought two veal cutlets would make a good breakfast. I was right so I ate two more which made it a fantastic breakfast. This morning started off so good, I almost forgot about last night. My aunt woke up just before I left. So I ended up leaving about 9:40. I thought I was walking at a very fast pace to the subway. Then a beautiful young lady in a tight skirt and knee high boots with high heels walked off a side street onto Woodhaven Blvd in front of me. She was clearly in a hurry so I tried to keep pace with her. Damn it. I could not walk that fast. Once the F train made it to Manhattan, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to be in Brooklyn by 10:30. So I texted Chrissy the exact train connections she needed to get to Battery Park and told her I would meet them there. FYI, we only had a cell signal when the trains were in a station. But something strange happened, instead of getting upset I just sat back and relaxed. As I looked around I saw people with a wide variety of skin colors, speaking many different languages. I saw people with different religious beliefs and probably various sexual preferences. I began to smile because we were all on the same train, heading in the same direction but going to so many different places in the same city. I truly felt proud to be an American at that moment. This is what America is and always has been to me. Damn it feels good to be American. I get to the house we are staying at by 10:55. I drop off my clothes from yesterday and grab my backpack, camera and Statue of Liberty ticket. I get to Fulton Street at 11:20. I decided to skip the notoriously slow 5 train and run down Broadway to Battery Park. Now I know why New Yorkers hate tourists. Those damn red doubledecker buses are dropping off tourists from Trinity Church to Battery Park. It was like running a gauntlet as these schmucks step off the bus and just look upward at the tall buildings as if we are being invaded from outer space...mouths open...drooling...walking like zombies in no particular direction...somehow I make it to Battery Park.

So I call Christy and her phone is breaking up but I hear "fucked up" then she is gone. I look for Patty and Christy on the huge security line for the Statue of Liberty ferry. I can't find them, I do find the much shorter line for the noon ferry. So I get on it. Once I am on the boat, I call Christy. All she says is "I can't hear you." So I start to text her and see she texted me. Somehow they ended up at Central Park. She missed the Fulton stop and took the A train all the way up the west side to Columbus Circle. 

So now you are caught up with the story so far.
It is a cold day with a brutally cold wind. I stand on the back of the ferry to take pictures as we leave Manhattan.

The East Coast WWII Memorial in Battery Park. My grandfather took me to this park many times. He loved it down here. And so do I because it reminds me of him. We would sit on the benches and look across the harbor at the Statue of Liberty, Sometimes we went to Liberty Island...sometimes we took the Staten Island Ferry and just sailed by Liberty Island.


Downtown has been built upward so much since I was a kid.

I still like the old stone buildings over the glass and steel ones. They have more character and more soul.

Jersey City across the Hudson River.

I froze my ass off but I kept taking pictures. 

The world's beacon of hope...

...and possibly the most famous statue in the world.

The Verrazano Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.

When I got off the ferry, I found out that Chrissy and Patty were on a ferry that just left Manhattan. So I walked around the island and waited for them....

....and took pictures.

Once again I just relaxed and looked around. There were so many people from around the world that seemed so excited to be here. Of course they took pictures. But even if I couldn't understand what they were saying, I could feel their excitement about seeing the Statue of Liberty. Whenever someone mimicked taking a picture, someone else always agreed to take the picture for them. I am pretty sure I was asked in Italian to take a picture of two young women...that really made me smile because I know my Italian great grandfather passed through Ellis Island in 1907. Once again I felt so proud to be an American. 

As you can see, the sun broke through the clouds while I waited for Lucy and Ethel to finally find their way up and down Manhattan and meet me at the Statue of Liberty.

We had passes to climb up to the top of the pedestal. The passes to the crown were sold out.
The view here was nice if you looked out across the harbor...

...not such a good view of Lady Liberty.

The Empire State Building is visible far up on the left side.

Ellis Island and Jersey City.

As we made our way back down...

...the raised promenade around the base has excellent views of Miss Liberty.

The New Colossus
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
 - Emma Lazarus

A different view on the way back to the ferry.

Chrissy posing at the unimpressive NPS sign for the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

WTC One and the Statue Of Liberty together...sums up my last two days.

I liked how the clouds circled Lady Liberty.

The non public side of Ellis Island.

The Ellis Island Museum. We stayed on the ferry because we have tickets for a play tonight. But I've been here several times and highly recommend spending time here.

So the three of us are cold and hungry as we walk out of Battery Park. Information you need to know...I love carousels. I always ride them when I find them. But we stumbled across the Seaglass Carousel and I was very excited to see that it was open. Of course we rode it. 

You sit inside the fish.

Then entire floor spins like a normal carousel, then the three inner circles also spin in different directions and the fish move up and down about five feet. 

Then the fish light up and a acid trip version of  "Here Comes The Sun" by the Beatles plays...

...and you feel like you are swimming with the fish.

Now I thought this was the greatest carousel I've ever been on...

...but at night with your favorite drug of choice...

...this might be a life altering ride. Take a look for yourself.

We were running late for dinner but I was hungry, so I grabbed a slice of pizza to go. 

Out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan for dinner in Hell's Kitchen. That's the neighborhood not the restaurant. I was dismayed at the high rise construction on the west side. I love these old tenement buildings.  

This is what a city neighborhood is to me...not that soulless high rise on the Hudson River in the background. Let me step off my soapbox...we met my cousin Michelle at the Gotham West Side Market for dinner. A few years ago she told me when she graduates from college that she wanted to live in New York City. Now she is a New Yorker chasing her dreams of working on Broadway shows and I am so proud of her. She was so excited that we were going to see Come From Away tonight that I had to text her my review right after the show. So I did.

I read the book, "When The World Came To Town". Chrissy and I spent two weeks in Newfoundland last summer. I've listened to the soundtrack thirty times or more. I laughed and cried every time. But seeing it live on stage was incredible. The audience just erupted when the actors and the band took their bows. Shows like this are why I love live theater. I am still smiling about this play. Maybe visiting the 9/11 museum the day before seeing this play had something to do with my reaction, if so I am glad it did. 
 If you don't know...this is the story about 9/11. When the USA shut down it's air space, 37 transatlantic flights landed in Gander, Newfoundland. That town and several around it took care of about 7,000 people who were stranded there for five days. This incredible story of taking care of strangers who show up at your door out of nowhere is such an affirmation of what our world could be and should be. 

We had post theater drinks at the Blue Bar in the classic old school Algonquin Hotel.

 Then we had a midnight breakfast in the Village at the Waverly Diner.
Another strange and wonderful day in NYC comes to an end. But when my head hits the pillow tonight all I will be thinking about is how this city has repeatedly throughout my life restored my faith in family, in humanity and the American ideals that I believe in. I've joked that I need to visit NYC like a junkie needs heroine. That no longer seems like a joke to me.