March 22, 2009

A Grand Tour Through the City

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My girlfriend and I spent the second half of spring break in New York City, but Thursday was really all we needed. We took a walk through the Met, where I was fascinated by Monet’s “Ice Floes.” Next time you’re there, check it out. At first glance, it’s just a white blur, nondescript and non-engaging — but the longer I stared at it, the more colors I saw, the more detail I discovered. It’s the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen.
After the Met, we headed to Times Square. This was my second or third time touring New York City, and already I hate tourists. Times Square is where New York is congested and dirty and loud, where you can point to all the honking cars and assholes as proof that New York is the pinnacle of our society’s inevitable decline. Where we were staying — with friends on the Upper West Side — New York is still vibrant and cool and promising and clean. The real, beautiful New York is the New York no one ever wants to tour.
So a few blocks from the madness, at 46th and 9th, we found a nice restaurant, some Italian place whose owner stood on the curb begging for customers with a 20% “Stimulus Package” discount. The chicken was delicious.
Later: Avenue Q, a delightful show that takes all those cutesy Broadway clichés and turns them into puppets having sex, and an improv show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on 26th Street. It’s hard to find a better bargain for comedy in NYC than at UCB — five bucks for a good hour of improv from some of the best in the business (including Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan and a couple of the guys from Derrick Comedy) and three-dollar Yuenglings.
The next night, having done everything there was to do on Thursday, we stayed inside, ordered a pizza and watched Lost. Old habits die hard, I guess.