Saturday, January 14, 2023

NYC NYE 2023 (part two)

Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece)
Robert Campinca. 1427-32

Here’s the great thing about visiting New York with my wife. We don’t feel compelled to do anything, we can just be. Sure, we make plans, but it’s not like going somewhere new and strange and you feel anxious about timing, getting from place to place, or even what and when you are going to eat.

Manga comic wallpaper at Tampopo.
We’d already visited the local grocery store the night before and got a few things for the morning; coffee, cream, yogurt, bananas, granola. I was so wrung out from the events of the previous week (remember that bomb cyclone?) that I got up, ate, took a shower, and had a nap. And that was glorious.

By the time we got out, it was lunchtime, and we stopped in at Tampopo Ramen, which I first visited with our eldest three years ago. The noodles were fresh, our bowls fat with tempura. Crazy good.

New Year’s weekend in Manhattan this year, while not very cold, was certainly damp. We walked through Fort Tryon Park in the rain and mist, taking our time, wandering down to the Hudson River overlook where I proposed to her almost twenty-five years ago. You couldn’t even see the river, let alone the GWB, it was so foggy.

The Cloisters are preferable in the summer, when the gardens are in bloom and you are able to walk through them. That just meant we took more time enjoying the architecture and artwork.

I was curious, in this era where Westerners are more self-critical of our collective history of pillage and appropriation, as to when the curators of the Cloisters found in necessary to make clear, on every medieval doorway, window frame and artifact, that they were only taken from monasteries, priories and covenants that had been crumbling and abandoned ruins. Nobody cared about this stuff, okay?

Ceci n'est pas un lion.
The thing that really struck me this time around was how important the lion figured in medieval symbolism but how apparently no medieval artisans had ever seen an actual lion.

Then back to the crib for a disco nap, water and ibuprofen. These are my primary pieces of advice when visiting the big city; do only one or two things a day, stay hydrated, rest when you can, have pain reliever, pee before you leave wherever it is you are.

Finally, we embarked on our New Year’s Eve plans. There was this bro on the subway who had his headphones on and he was not selling it. That’s the thing about headphones, you really learn who knows their bars and those who do not. He was like, “hummanah-mummunah-mum O’CLOCK, mummunah-hummunah-mum MY COCK.” Keep working those rhymes, my dude.

Our New Year’s Eve dinner reservation was at Chama Mama, a Georgian restaurant on the UWS. We had seats outside, in a heated shed attached to the building. The heated shed is still a thing In New York City. It was a glorious meal, we ordered far more than was necessary, but we wanted to taste so many things. I was surprised at how (relatively) inexpensive the meal was, considering how many small plates we ordered.

First up and most notably was the khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread. Fresh baked bread in the shape of a boat, filled with a soft cheese, served very hot with an egg cracked on top. The server stirred in the egg and a pat of butter and we tore off bits of bread and cheese. I could have just eaten three of those.

Dream Big!
Unfortunately, it was raining consistently as we walked the fourteen blocks to Lincoln Center, where the Big Apple Circus was presenting a special New Year’s Eve performance of their current show, Dream Big.

What was unique about this performance, at least to me, were the videos before every act, where the circus artist provided a brief candid interview where they were able to share a little about their life and career as a performer. When do we know anything about circus performers? I thought it was nice. Most were members of extended circus families, most notably the new owner of the Big Apple Circus, the legendary Nik Wallenda.

At midnight we toasted the new year right there in the big top, and we were all invited to dance on the stage.

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