Monday, February 16, 2015

Noo Yawk

The city that never sleeps. That's where MY WIFE and I were for the past five days. Mostly, we slept.

We really did do a lot of sleeping. I'm not sure why. I think it was because we did a lot of eating. It was also very cold, which induces sleep. But we left behind hideously cold weather in Boston, so we should have been more awake, at least comparatively. It's very confusing.

Most of our vacation was spent in Brooklyn - and that will tell you something about how cold and nasty Boston has been, that we went to New York to vacation in a warmer spot. Wind chills in New York were something like 10 below zero (for my European readers who might be trying to figure that out as Celsius, it works out to filling your underwear with ice cubes.) Meanwhile, it snowed another 12 inches in Boston, which gives us something like 80 inches total in February alone - truth - so we were relatively happy in Brooklyn.

Why Brooklyn you ask? Because MY WIFE's brother is a nice guy who was out of town and he let us use his apartment as our hotel room. Thank you, brother-in-law!

(He was vacationing in the Canary Islands. Yes, that does prove his mental superiority to us.)

So, what did we do that was more exciting than sleeping? For one thing we visited Louis Armstrong's house in the Corona section of Queens. 

[The modest brick building is the place. Photo from HERE, where there is a nice article about a neighbor.]

It looks like a little sort of a place - and it is a rather modest dwelling for such a giant of music - but it's chock full of great memorabilia, wonderful human touches that truly make you feel as though Mr. Armstrong and his wife still dwell in the place in spirit, and the folks who take care of it and give tours are tremendously attached to it all and truly love their work. We recommend it highly.

(It's a bit tough to reach. Well, for us it was, anyway, because we suck at following directions. We walked about eight blocks we didn't need to walk before we found it. If you take the subway, it's actually a not-too-distant walk from the 103rd Street station on the 7 train. Do it. If you like his music, you'll be enchanted.)

After the tour, we went to a great little restaurant in that Hispanic neighborhood, Estrella Latina. Good food in a quirky atmosphere (I wish we had a photo of the interior; MY WIFE said it was "early Fred Flintstone".) We both had the red snapper, which was grilled and served whole; mine with fried plantains and MY WIFE's with beans and rice. A couple of glasses of good wine each and it was a swell meal.

We rode the subway a lot (which is more my thing than MY WIFE's, but she loves me and indulges my public transportation Asperger's.) We rode mostly on elevated lines - aside from the 7, the F, D and Q - which are lovely as vehicles with which to see the real neighborhoods they travel through. Although I have a rather intense fear of open heights (I don't like being on the platforms where you catch said trains) I feel safe while traveling in the cars themselves. It's a cheap way to take a tour of the city, really. If you decide to visit Brooklyn and do likewise, I recommend the F as probably the most scenic ride. Take it out to Coney Island and then ride either the D or Q back for another high-riding view.

[The orange ones near the bottom are the best for seeing sights in Brooklyn.]

Finally - although it wasn't the last thing we did; actually, it was on Saturday - we visited some lovely friends in Manhattan. Daryl (of the blog Out and About in New York City) and her husband (and sometime contributor, as Toonman), Ray, are beautiful people who live on the upper west side with their three cats, Harry, Jack and Annie. We met them - and also a swell friend of theirs, actor/writer/director Andrew Johns - for a leisurely stroll and some breakfast at a joint called Hi-Life.

Before you see some photos of our time together, you need to watch this video. It stars Ray and Andrew, and it hit me right where I live. It's title is Rainy Day Old Maid. Really, just watch it. You won't be sorry.

I grew up with guys like that all around the neighborhood. That is truth captured in that film. And hilarious truth, to boot. For more of their work together, Google "You Tube" and "yacobsladder". Great stuff.

Anyway, the five of us shared a nice breakfast, some witty repartee, friendly cats and a good walk. Here are some photos.

Both the blessing and the curse of these photos is that they were taken by Daryl Edelstein.
The blessing, of course, is that she's a fine photographer.
The curse is she took them and therefore isn't in any of them.
Clockwise from left: Andrew, me, MY WIFE, Ray.

Ray looking on as Andrew politely laughs at some tired wheeze I told him.

Andrew still politely paying attention while Ray keeps his face out of it and MY WIFE stares off into the distance thinking, "God, Jim sure does talk a lot."
Finally, we have Ray, me and Andrew recreating a scene from Waiting for Godot.
They, of course, are Vladimir and Estragon, while I am portraying the baggage-laden Lucky.

That's about all I have today. It was a nice vacation spent with nice people. What more could I want?

(You? You could want a lot more, but you won't get it and I'm surprised you lasted this long. Thanks!)

Soon, with more better stuff (except for the photos, which don't get any better.)


silly rabbit said...

Sounds like a great vacation to me. You can't beat a free room and good company. I'd love to visit the Armstrong museum. It is interesting to see how people live and what things they cherished or captured their interest. (Truth be told, I could enjoy myself visiting the houses of older neighbors the same way. The world is full of little museums that we never visit.)

lime said...

Love the Godot scene. Glad you had fun and relative warmth. My cousin escaped to Florida.

OldAFSarge said...

Brooklyn to avoid winter?

Well, compared to Boston it is pretty mild in NYC.

Mich said...

Sounds like a lovely weekend. Never liked Brooklyn myself, but I would certainly take there over New England at this stage.

Hope y'all are surviving alright back in Boston! I'm off to Kentucky next week and seriously considering not coming back...

Daryl said...

Saturday was warm compared to Sunday … and Monday made them both look like beach day weather …. we miss you BOTH already and wish you lived closer to us … Harry has been looking for you since you left …

Craig said...

That Ray and Andrew are quite a couple of cards, aren't they? (you see what I did there?)

Sounds like a great time. . .

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I've been to NYC at least twice ...maybe three times, but I don't believe I have set foot in Queens or Brooklyn, at least not on purpose.

Shammickite said...

The first time I ever went to NYC (back in 1969 or 1970ish) we stayed somewhere in queens, and when we went for dinner, the restaurant had lots of Louis Armstrong pictures.... he was still alive then. Maybe it was near his house, I really can't remember.
Next time the bro-in-law goes on vacation, tell him I'll be happy to house sit for him. I love the pictures, especially the last one, fab! I wonder what was in the bag?

Shammickite said...

OMG just watched the movie, that is hilarious, it made me GRIN and CHORTLE (great words eh?)! Loved the cockroach, and the flea jumping, and burning the monopoly set... If you and your wife shared breakfast with those two comedians, you must have been laughing all the way through!

Pearl said...

I chuckled through this. Youse good people.

And yes, I heard that the Armstrong house was modest and lovely -- and that he never quite got over the fact that it was his.


Hilary said...

I always love it when blog friends get together .. especially when both are people I enjoy so much. That particular video is still my favourite of the group.. though they're all fun. I'm glad you had such a great time. Now I'll have to wander over to Daryl's because no doubt, she also reported on your time together.

Unknown said...

get away anywhere so good for the soul sounds interesting

Unknown said...

Sandy kessler above