From the tranquility of the Maine coast to the hubbub of New York! The continual clangor of the Manhattan streets is such that one can't walk a block without hearing a horn or siren or both. There are quiet moments, too: I couldn't resist sneaking a photo of this couple in Central Park (not that they noticed). Voyeurs that we are, we watched her torture him for a good ten minutes. By the time we left, I think he was ready to agree to anything!
Maine is a great place to do nothing. We hung out with my father and his wife, drove out to a couple of towns, visited Pemaquid Point (see photo above), and generally took it easy. One night, Premium T. made dinner, then found a poetry anthology from which she, I, and my father took turns reading aloud. We also went out to eat, including a glorious dinner at Primo, a feast easily the equal of anything we ate in New York.
In the town of Belfast, I discovered a book store run by a retired UCLA meteorology professor. The store features books about science and philosophy, both in and out of print. For three years now, I've been vainly searching for a layman's history of the Enlightenment. Well, the Old Professor (for such was the name of the store) not only knew of one, he had it: A two-volume set written back in the Sixties by Peter Gay. It will be an undertaking, but I'm determined to read it...
Any visit to New York is, like the great city itself, too big to summarize adequately. We walked the streets of the Upper East Side (window shopping at the fashion designer stores), Greenwich Village, Soho, and Central Park; visited Ground Zero; took in the wonders of the Museum of Modern Art; saw the superb revival of South Pacific; and even dropped by the Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel.
The walls of the Bemelmans were illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, creator of the Madeleine books. Unsurprisingly, they are charming and whimsical, depicting the four seasons. And, yes, on small part of one of the walls, almost secreted away, stand twelve little girls in two straight lines.
New York is nothing if not a city of outstanding restaurants. With Premium T. making the calls, we were assured of eating well. Our choices included Cuban (Victor's Cafe), French (La Goulue), neuva New Mexican (Mesa Grille), and Italian (Lupa). Contrary to stereotype, New Yorkers are quite friendly; as restaurant tables tend to be close to each other, we wound up chatting with several delightful couples. These included a Puerto Rican graduate student and the boyfriend who had followed her from Puerto Rico; a professional couple, the husband of which often takes his mother-in-law to musicals; and a pair of foodies impressed by the reputation of Seattle's restaurants. Also, at La Goulue, Bridgette Bardot enjoyed a tete-a-tete with a friend, oblivious to the camera crew filming her.
The MOMA is an overwhelmingly inspirational place, with room after room of Picassos, Cezannes, Matisses, Renoirs, Van Goghs, and Pollacks. A wall in one room features a massive Monet tryptich. Seurat seemingly discovers a new shade of orange in a sunset painting. Pollack's naked pain and suffering move T. to tears. I gawk at the marvels of Cezanne.
But all in all, the highlight of the trip for me was the revival of South Pacific at the Lincoln Center. It's the best musical production I've ever seen (don't miss the video footage here), and close to the best theatre of any kind. A dashing Paulo Szot and winsome Kelli O'Hara sparkle as Emile and Nellie, but the entire cast is fine. SP has any number of classic songs; especially memorable were "Some Enchanted Evening," "Nothing Like A Dame," "I'm Going To Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair," "Younger Than Springtime," and "This Nearly Was Mine." Suffice to say that if you're going to New York any time soon, make a special effort to see South Pacific. You won't be disappointed. I leave you with a medley performed by the cast at the Tony Awards: