My horrible wonderful trip to NYC
Some people pack a carry-on and go. Not me. I start cleaning out my fridge three days before I leave; my to-do lists give birth to their own to-do lists. Returning home is even worse; it takes me four days to unpack and regain equilibrium. I’m a homebody and a terrible traveler.
So the grand plan was to take care of everything way in advance, then use the whole day to pack for my flight, which left at 5:30 in the evening. The grand plan got torpedoed at midnight when I was told my flight was now leaving at 6:30 a.m. because of the winter storm that was closing in on New York. Panic. An entire night of throwing things in and throwing things out, leaving without a brush, moisturizer, or socks. I missed the plane and forgot to write down where I parked in long-term parking.
We landed in Charlotte, N.C. and were told to wait for our luggage; all flights out to the East Coast were on hold. By “we,” I mean every single plane flying into the Charlotte hub from everywhere else in the United States. So hundreds of people got their luggage before me ... six hours later, I was still in baggage claim, by which time all the airport hotels were booked. Things were not going according to the grand plan. The loud and bigoted taxi driver who drove me to the wrong hyatt in downtown Charlotte, then the hotel driver who wanted to charge me $10 to drive 2 blocks away to the other Hyatt didn’t sweeten the day one bit. I considered flying back to NOLA…the Universe was certainly talking to me but no, damn it. I hadn’t spent all day in baggage claim to turn around.
By the next afternoon, when I finally got to my hipster hotel, The Hudson, I had a cold, my first in like five years. I felt my eyes to see if I was wearing my sunglasses inside, but no, the hipster lighting was permanent midnight except for a pin light here and there. I went to the hotel restaurant for some salt to gargle with and thought I was in a disco. I left, keeping my arms extended, feeling my way to the elevator. Now for the luke-cold shower ... and a change of rooms. It was 17 degrees in New York and I had a cloth coat and no socks or moisturizer. Or a brush. But from the 18th floor, I could clearly hear clip..clop..clip..clop of the horse-drawn carriages heading to Central Park.
I went to the Preview Party that night for The Metro Show -- couple of shots of vodka, boatloads of gorgeous art, everything else fell away. It was freezing outside but warm and friendly inside ... maybe because it was outsider, primitive, contemporary art that, by and large, cost hundreds and thousands but not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gallery owners were happy to discuss the artists, the weather, and mean cabdrivers in Charlotte.
As I wrote in the last post (The eye must eat, too: Wall to wall art in NYC), Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, a local girl who just made her way back home after 20 years in NYC and Berlin, was the Director of The Metro Show. There were only 37 booths, laid out in a bright open space, but still, with all the talking and looking it took me three visits to take it all in. Below are a few of the pics I took, along with one of Caroline and me taken by Annie Watt, which made it into the New York Social Diary!
I did manage to eat dinner with my favorite boychick, Alan Goldberg, he of 60 Minutes Sports fame. We dined at Noodies on 9th Avenue, between 54th and 55th -- fabulous Tom Yum Soup. Cheap. Went back the next night for exactly the same meal, perfect for a head cold.
I took the subway everywhere for the best people watching in town. There were kids showing off and being generally hilarious, people begging for money with very fine speeches, and subway signs called Poetry in Motion, a program sponsored by the MTA (the transit authority).
The city orbits around eight million
centers of the universe
and turns around the golden clock
at the still point of this place.
Lift up your eyes from the moving hive
and you will see time circling
under a vault of stars and know
just when and where you are.
Billy Collins, b 1941
Waiting for the 1 Train at Columbus Circle, musicians played what sounded like Scottish bagpipe music, only it was played on Peruvian flutes. I was at a local stop so some trains whooshed right on through, windows and posts clicking so fast it made my heart beat like I was riding the Zephyr.
Since I haven’t found any good Indian food in NOLA, I stopped at Chola (232 58th St.), which was still packed at 3 p.m. when I left. Managers Narinder Kumar and Nisar Shoddo couldn’t have been sweeter. There was a puffy-shelled thing that you were supposed to tap a hole on top, then fill with I don’t know what -- coconut chutney, maybe -- and what he called water (I think it was tamarind water) and I would call a sweet hot sauce. Then he instructed me to scoop it all up in one bite. There were fried lentil donuts and 20 other exotic choices, delicious yogurt and chutneys. Once I sat down with my mountain of food, they brought two tandoori cooked chicken legs, rice crepes stuffed with onions and potatoes, and naan. All this for the higher weekend price of $14.95. That much food was a 2-Rolaids payback, but worth it.
Here are some pictures of the pastry, the art, and the rat.
Don’t leave town without a Cannelle from Bouchon Bakery, 3rd Floor, Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle (or at their Rockefeller Center shop). The Cannelle is crisp and gooey at the same time; it’s an amazing little thing.
Umbrella Arts...I think the artist is Lisa Krivacka
William Blayney from art dealer Stephen Romano
Kim McCarty's new large scale flowers at Morgan Lehman. Below, also from Morgan Lehman, is Frohawk Two Feathers...yeah Frohawk Two Feathers, and a painting from his vivid imagined world, La Mort D'Anibal. and finally,
And a beautiful NYC rat.
My step brother, Roger Smith, informed me, “as for the rat, it is put up by the NYC Local of the Building Trades Union, wherever nonunion workers (scabs to them) are being employed, making it a common sight to New Yorkers. It does have a certain beauty, even if this left-liberal can’t go all the way in supporting this particularly outrageous example of a feather-bedding and corrupt union.”
“Wait, how do they move a 2-ton rat around the city?” I asked.
“It’s a BALLOON,” Roger answered.
It gets inflated and deflated -- just like my ego on regular occasion.
Carol Pulitzer is an award-winning writer and illustrator. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine Magazine, and Country Living among others. She writes and illustrates super short stories at her Little Theatre blog ( littletheatre1.com ) and can be contacted at [email protected]