2009-12-29

Xmas Post IV: New York Sojourn 2

After Christmas with the family, I headed back into the city again for another 30-hours-on-the-ground NYC trip. Saturday afternoon was the only window that Probe could schedule in to meet up, so we got together for drinks and snacks at a wine bar on the Upper West Side (Barcibo Enoteca)—a great little spot.


Probe is doing well; we caught up, geeked out about both of our jobs, and had some tasty Italian Reds. However, he, Becca, and Sophia were flying out on Sunday (ugh… with all of the associated security unpleasantness).

The next day, I had a general plan of a few items to check off my New York List. I wanted to go check out the American Radiator Building, which is a 1924 skyscraper, with a great black and gold finish (black brick exterior, plus gold leaf details): Black brick on the frontage of the building (symbolizing coal) was selected to give an idea of solidity and to give the building a solid mass. Other parts of the facade were covered in gold bricks (symbolizing fire), and the entry was decorated with marble and black mirrors. It is located on Bryant Park, near the New York Public Library. Also, it is the subject of a Georgia O’Keefe painting from her time in New York, before she left for the Southwest.


On the walk over, I came across this car, just sitting parked on the street. Caption contest, anyone?


NO RADIO
“Hey, you’re the one who wanted the convertible!”

Full-on wreck, both airbags blown, with the entire roof removed by the jaws of life. But more interestingly, the sticker on the driver’s side reads:

WARNING: THIS VEHICLE IS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT. “ANYONE” TAMPERING WITH OR “REMOVING PARTS” FROM THIS VEHICLE WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST AND POSSIBLE IMPRISONMENT

First of all—ew, emphasis quotes. Ugh. Second, under “Reason for Custody,” the checkbox read “Evidence.” Um… is it really a good idea to leave evidence just sitting around out on the street? Isn’t there something like that whole “chain of custody” thing going on?

The next stop was lunch in Chinatown. One of the Christmas presents that was actually a huge win was from mom—the Momofuku cookbook (Perlick brought me to Momofuku Noodle Bar back in 2006). Chef David Chang mentioned a dish from Great New York Noodletown as an inspiration, or even a direct steal, for one of his dishes. So I had to give it a shot. Pretty yummy—ginger and scallion lo mein noodles, and pork/wonton soup. And only $10!


Next, I hopped the train out to Long Island City in Queens, to check out PS1: it’s MoMA’s Contemporary Art collection, kinda an overflow space. A bunch of interesting exhibits; however, because the museum does not actually “own the rights” to the works on display, they forbid photography. Ah well. At least I got a good shot of the exterior—it’s a repurposed old brick school building, with a courtyard lined with what appear to be concrete blast walls.


Although they refinished the gallery spaces, the hallways are still close to their original condition, with many layers of ugly institutional pea-green paint. Hey—at least they didn’t keep the old water fountains that are 2 feet off the ground, for little kiddies!


One work, however, was incredibly striking; it is labeled James Turrell: Meeting (1986) and is behind a door that is locked until 1 hour before sunset. You walk through the door, and you are in a square room with a huge skylight overhead. Oh wait… that’s not a skylight… that’s, um, the sky! (but with the ceiling cut at a knife edge, giving the illusion that there must be a drywall corner to a vertical shaft). You can hear the nearby trains and trucks, and watch birds fly by overhead… quite neat.


A large wing was dedicated to video art… at first diverting, but it was quickly a rather grating and annoying art form. I gave a cursory glance and fled.

While there was still daylight, I made it out to Gantry State Park—they are circa 1920 gantry cranes on the Queens waterfront, that were used to transfer cargo from railcars to barges. They are no longer used, but the gantries were kept as the main decorative element of a waterfront park.



The views out onto the water are just fantastic—I was lucky enough to stay around to catch a sunset over Manhattan. This area must be packed when the weather is nicer—there were maybe half a dozen other people out there with me.


I had one more nice dinner before heading out of town—a French bistro in Long Island City, called Tournesol. I’ve historically associated the Long Island City area with warehouses and power plants; perhaps the place where Russian mobsters take stolen cars to strip them behind rollup doors. However, apparently, it’s pretty gentrified now—the restaurant was a delightful little spot; their bouillabaisse was fantastic… like somebody took the essence of the sea (fish, mussels, shrimp) and made it into a hearty stew.

Then hopped the 7 Train back into Manhattan, and caught a late (8:30 PM-12:15 AM) bus back to Boston—killing time on the road writing blog posts! For reference, BoltBus has power outlets, but I cannot connect to their WiFi network. Grr.

5 Comments:

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turrell is actually a Friend. That piece of art is, I believe, supposed to symbolize divine inspiration.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Omri said...

Oh, wow. Joyriding in a car impounded for evidence. I wonder what kind of trouble that cop will be in when he gets out of hospital....

 
At 11:35 PM, Anonymous da said...

grr, blogger just ate my comment.

http://www.friendshouston.org/skyspace/

I'm curious if the Turrell piece had benches in a square, like a Quaker Meeting. His wikipedia page suggested that it might...

 
At 11:51 PM, Blogger Bats said...

I'm curious if the Turrell piece had benches in a square, like a Quaker Meeting.

Yes, you're exactly right--there were wooden benches around the perimeter of the square room, all facing inwards.

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger da said...

Bats: cool!

 

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