We are deep inside the crackling neon canyons of Times Square, an immense outdoor palace of cultural wonder. It is 29 degrees on this black and frigid night. I am looking down into a sea of rhythmically pulsing advertisements trying to make sense of it all. Feels like a Hieronymus Bosch scene - a writhing sea of undulating humanity clad in puffy parkas resembling a vibrating earthly wormhole.
Our Ravitch Family Karma Tour has commenced.
We set up shop in a (very) tiny 370 s.f. apt under Fang Wong's Office on 150 Mott Street in Little Italy. This trip casts a wide net into the neighboring boroughs with my sisters in tow (and often leading) as we traverse all that beckons -> the Brooklyn Bridge to Cobble Hill, Queens museums, walking across/down/thru Central Park and don't forget the ol' mid-town dodge + weave as we scurry to evening theater. Underslept and overstimulated, there is just way too much to devour in two weeks. We are here to see family, friends and colleagues. From the grimy subway stations of Queens to the posh Upper West Side living rooms, we traverse time and space to reconnect.
There are many long hugs.
The streets are blanketed in ephemeral messages of hope, anger and humor. No surface untouched. Our friend and skilled photographer Alex calls it out perfectly, "NYC is the messy collision of the designed and undesigned juxtaposed in such a way that it wakes up and assaults your senses." Especially aurally. It's really loud here compared to vast New Mexico. Beyond aurally and visually, NY tickles our tastebuds with every possible type of meal. In 2 weeks we have had: Jewish deli, Italian, Chinese Dim Sum, Greek, Japanese, Ukrainian, American, various bagels and countless slices of thin crust pizza.
This is not a passive town, morphing and shedding its skin daily, yet somehow always recognizable. The latest social trend here is around the legalization of pot - clouds of it waft around us on every.single.block. Neon shops pop up by the minute selling loose joints and you can even purchase the stuff from roaming mobile vans, ready to sell and roll to any open curbside.
NYC - always removing the barriers.
Seeing a live television show taping of The Colbert Report is a real highlight. Somehow, we find ourselves seated in the 4th row right in front of Stephen's desk on free tickets. To watch as they stitch it all together with wonderful off-camera banter between takes - like a show within a show. We snagged tix just a few weeks in advance as January is a slow month. Onstage tonight, Tom Hanks and Stephen riff effortlessly off one another. And to watch it unfold on the historic set of the Ed Sullivan theater (where the Beatles played) is magical.
After the show he comes back into the crowd and says 'hey, can you guys can stick around as tmw's guest had to reschedule and I'd like to quickly interview him right now. I think you'll recognize him'. So he restarts the show and on cue we see special security teams emerge from the wings looking deeply into the crowd. On cue out comes his special guest, an exclusive interview with… Prince Harry. The real one. Right there. His book would launch the following day.
Timing and luck are everything.
Speaking of which, finding open bathrooms in Manhattan is always a challenge! We visited the best: St Regis Hotel, the Algonquin, the Plaza Hotel and many coffee shops. And the one time we were truly desperate, we went to the Sheraton only to find you needed a room key to use the lobby restrooms. Heresy! Just as panic was setting in with my sisters, out of the blue, a young hip dude appears flashing a room key from his pocket as if reading our minds. He lets us in and then moves on leaving us with his observation: "The city, she's a cruel mistress my friend."
That's for sure.
Below are a few chosen images from the 548 taken with my phone.
Enjoy or... fuggedaboutit.