New York was OK

There’s a bit of a joke running around the internet that goes:

“My girlfriend wanted a kitten, but I didn’t, so we compromised and got a kitten…”

Mrs Dim has wanted to go to New York for a long time. She’s heard great things about it from many people and was keen to go experience it for herself. I didn’t want to go. Not that I had anything particularly specific against the city, I was just…not that interested.

But recently we reached our twentieth wedding anniversary, and it really felt like Mrs Dim deserved some recognition for sharing space with me for two decades. We booked four nights in New York, in a groovy little hotel not far from Times Square called the “Yotel”.

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Once we had decided to go, we made a list of the things and places to see. I was going to collect movie locations, I decided. Mrs Dim wanted a sandwich from a genuine New York Deli, and she wanted to visit the Guggenheim, MOMA and Bloomingdales. We both felt the Statue of Liberty was unavoidable, and that the Empire State Building was a curiously unattractive proposition.

Since we didn’t fly direct, it was a long day’s travel to reach the city, and an hour’s wait for the hotel shuttle didn’t make us feel any better. Once it arrived, we clambered in and were treated to four orbits of the airport, as the driver repeatedly missed notifications of passengers and rocketed back through the dense traffic (composed almost entirely of Taxis) to pick them up.

Driving in New York seems to be a form of percussion. Tap both feet in an irregular rhythm on the brake and accelerator, and catch any missed beats by pounding on the horn. It doesn’t matter if the car in front of you can move, or even if it is occupied, you have to pound on the horn.

So much excitement on the way to the hotel put paid to any plans to explore the city that first night. Instead we reveled in the view from the 24th floor and the snugness of the cabin room of the Yotel, and made quiet plans for the next day.

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The view from the hotel room window.

The next morning we were eager to get on with sampling the culture. We walked to the MOMA and we happy to find they had an exhibition of Picasso Sculptures on. We got free entry because we had arranged New York City Passes ahead of time, so we sauntered past the huge line and went to look at Art.

As usual, we spent half the time in the galleries looking at the art, and the rest of the time looking at the people looking at the art. MOMA was a great place to wander, and we had plenty of space and time to have our usual argument about the importance of intention in the production and perception of art. Sorry, I talk like that a lot in galleries. It’s exactly as pretentious as it sounds.

After MOMA we went to the first of my movie locations…which was also the second, third…probably all the way up to fifteen or so, and also my favourite part of the city, Central Park.

(Left to right, top to bottom)Mrs Dim reads the same book the Doctor read in Central Park in “The Angels take Manhattan”, she looks over the ice rink where Abbie Cornish escaped the bad guy in “Limitless”, walks the main thoroughfare seen in dozens of movies like “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve got Mail”. The walkway where Adrianne Palicki gets shot in “John Wick”, the fountain where the big musical number ends in “Enchanted”, and the statue of Alice in Wonderland that isn’t featured in a movie but is a favourite thing of Tiny Weasel, so I took a picture….

Central Park is beautiful. It’s not as wild or as big as Stanley Park – it doesn’t have the coastline, or the raccoons, but in a big, noisy, claustrophobic city, it’s a real breath of fresh air and open space. We didn’t ride in the carriages, but Mrs Dim did remark on the poor health of the horses we saw pulling them. We also managed not to take a photo of the family of four in their carriage who were all staring intently at their phones as Central Park rolled by them, unobserved.

The walk back to the Yotel took us a while, and it was dark when we reached Times Square. I was unimpressed, both by the crowds and the garish spectacle. Las Vegas does spectacle better, and this was crowded, noisy and uninteresting.

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In part Two: The One World Trade Center, The Statue of Liberty, shopping at Bloomingdales and mediocre food. Oh, and the journey home.

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