May 30, 2018

Big Apple Getaway (Pt. 2)

Day 3: Another exceptional day started with bagels and coffee at a corner shop. The touring kicked-off and we executed a clockwise loop of Central Park on the TopView bus. I thought of John Lennon’s “Imagine” when I saw the Dakota Apartments. Took in the views of Harlem and Spanish Harlem in the bright morning sun. Thought of James Brown, Otis Redding and other African-American artists when the Apollo sign came into view. I was excited to be on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Malcolm X Blvd, thanks to exposure to Spike Lee movies and epic history that was made on these boulevards.
My overall impression of Manhattan was the streets and neighborhoods seemed smaller than the legends they spawned. So much history contained in just a few city blocks. We came around the east side of Central Park got off at The Met. Traversed the park on foot, grateful for the exercise. Marina occasionally bolted to chase chipmunks or birds. 
We slowly headed in the direction of the American Museum of Natural History ($72 for all four of us). Once inside, we maneuvered through the weekend crowds and viewed the geographic sections and attractions of interest: the Moon, Asia, North America etc. Alas, the girls were semi-interested. I think videos and instant knowledge always available on YouTube rival for their full attention. Perhaps the old ways can’t compete. However, you can’t truly grasp the physical immensity of a baleen whale by watching it on a screen. I hope that sinks in, if nothing else.
We went by cab back to Times Square and walked around again enjoying the human carnival around us. Yes, we saw the singing cowboy and a trio of cowgirls all doing their thing. Angry Disney characters posing for pics with tourists. We dropped our gear at the hotel room and prepared for the Blue Man Group show at the Astor Place Theater.
Getting there wasn’t easy. Traffic was snarled but our cabbie was a pro, and we arrived just in time. It was a full house of about 200 souls in a long and narrow space. The show features three deadpan men with amazing imaginations in skintight plastic suits. There was minimal dialogue; it was a visually centric performance. The threesome drummed on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color. They consumed Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch for no apparent reason. The toilet paper grand finale is memorably meaning-free. Audience members in the rear seats unroll long lengths of toilet paper and pass it forward to the people ahead of them until it reaches the front of the stage. Meanwhile, the audience is bombarded with loud techno music and strobe lights. 

Blue Man was terrific. They are Smart Coneheads merged with a dash of social commentary.

Day 4, The Return: We slept in. Close quarters in the hotel room inevitably generated sibling fights and bottled-up parental exasperation. This equaled no morning cartoons until the Rising Daughters™ changed clothes from their pajamas and packed up.
We had brunch at the Benash Delicatessen that my coworkers introduced to me the prior week. Before noshing at Benash I had always judged any IKEA food court’s cheesecake and coffee combination to be the best. (When you chew the cheesecake and wash it down with hot black java the blend is orgasmic.) My view changed irrevocably after my first visit to Benash. I knew had to share this joint with my family, who do enjoy The Sweets. The girls loved the food, Naomi understood why I love the ambience. It isn’t fancy, nor is it cheap, but in my humble opinion it looks and tastes like the New York of our dreams, indifferent waiters included. We’ll be back.

To cap off our trip we did gift shopping at the huge M&M store in Times Square and scoffed free Hershey’s kisses at their flagship store. Our last excursion in late afternoon was for a meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp--why not?
The liftoff from LaGuardia was gorgeous, featuring a spellbinding sunset as we cruised into the night over Manhattan and New Jersey. I’m rarely giddy from plane seat views but this time it was truly a visual feast.

So, yeah, we enjoyed our time in the Big Apple.

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