Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New York: Part Two

I walked into Saks Fifth Avenue store just to peruse and see how the "other half" live. While I love looking at beautiful designer clothes, I feel uncomfortable when a shirt that is 75% off is still a thousand dollars.I felt like an imposter and that everyone there knew I didn't belong. So I made a quick exit before they threw me out for wearing boots that did not cost over a grand.

For lunch, I quenched my two year craving from authentic falafels. We went to Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar which is located on Waverly Place. My only complaint is that they do not put fries in the falafels, but it's an easy fix - you just stuff their fries -rated in the top twenty for fries in New York - into the falafel in between bites.

Then we used the subway to get to East-Village to explore the famous Strand Bookstore established in 1927. One of my favorite things to do is to explore used/antique bookstores. From the extensive collection of books I bought a used copy of The English Patient, My Antonia and a compilation of essays by one of my favorite theorists: Walter Benjamin.

We drove by Columbia's campus and saw the dinner that Jerry Seinfeld and his friends always eat at. We did not eat there - word on the street is that it is awful food - so we went to Miss Mamie's. This restaurant sits on the cusp between Columbia University and Harlem and it serves famous fried chicken, red velvet cake and macaroni and cheese.

The next day the girls went on a tour through the Tenement Museum. This museum takes tours through a building that was a tenement house from the 1870's to the 1930's. The museum offers several tours in which it focuses on specific families that actually lived there and they display the rooms according to how the family lived. We learned about a German immigrant family that lived in the tenement in the 1870's and were ostracized because of the Nativism that arose during the Great Panic. The guide poignantly observed that one of the ancestors of this German family died in 9/11 - an event that launched another wave of Nativism and prejudice against immigrants.

For lunch we had some amazing Butter Lane cupcakes. They pair their chocolate and white dense cupcakes with flavorful frosting. Their frosting is so amazing they offer "frosting shots". My favorite cupcake was the strawberry - the frosting tasted like a strawberry smoothie.

For our last activity we went to the Museum of Modern Art. I saw a lot of art pieces that I've studied over the years: Henri Matisse Red Room and Dance (I), Georges Braque Man with a Guitar, Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Salvador Dali The Persistence of Memory. Here are the highlights of the museum for me:
Van Gogh
The Starry Night

At the Muse d'Orsay a few years ago this painting was on tour and I was not a happy camper. So, it was brilliant and unexpected to see this painting at the MoMA.

Mark Rothko
No. 3/No. 13

Marc Chagall
I and the Village

Piet Mondrian
Trafalgar Square

I found Mondrain's conceptual work especially intriguing because of a conference paper I'm working on that deals with space and boundaries. Also, in my Creative Writing class we talked about line in poetry and for my assignment I wrote a poem about line. So I had a lot of fun looking and thinking about this piece. Also it's title is Trafalgar Square...which reminds me of London...and I love London.

Constantin Brancusi
The Cock
Blond Negress, II
Bird in Space
Young Bird
Endless Column

Gustav Klimt
Hope, II

Friday, February 12, 2010

New York: Part One

To start of my experience of New York, my sister Rebekah – who lives in the Bronx with her husband – took us to dinner at a Venezuelan restaurant called Caracas. In true Venezuelan fashion it is complete with spanish music and shelves of Mary icons. My favorite dish included fried plantains, a mayo guacamole sauce and topped with shredded white salty cheese.

Today at the Metropolitan Museum my parents experienced the ancient worlds of Egypt and Mesopotamia while I toured the European Art Exhibit. I picked the highlights for me below:

Van Gogh, "Women Picking Olives"

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, "The Harvesters"

Vermeer, "Girl with the Water Pitcher"
Dutch Baroque

Nicolaes Maes, "Girl Peeling Apples"
Dutch Baroque

El Greco, "View of Toledo"
Spanish Renaissance

Picasso, "The Blind Man's Meal"
Blue Period

To perform our duty as tourists admirably, we snapped a picture at Rockefeller Center. (I must confess, I expected the skating rink to be much larger.) Then we walked to the neighboring NBC store to buy some amazing t-shirts. My favorite t-shirts included “No Soup for You!” and a picture of Christopher Walkin with the phrase “I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell”. I bought a t-shirt that says “Trust me [picture of David Tennant] I’m the Doctor” and Andrew bought a Laser Cat’s T-shirt.

For dinner we went to West Village to one of Martha Stewart’s favorite restaurants: Market Table. Martha likes this restaurant for a reason – it’s brilliant. I ordered a steak wrapped in bacon and accompanied with mushroom and deep-fried feta balls. Then, we quickly left to a showing of West Side Story. Now I will be singing “Tonight, tonight…” and “Maria” for the next few weeks.