We had wanted to hop on here to blog sooner but haven’t had the chance. New York has a way of doing that to you; sitting idle for any length of time just doesn’t seem to work while in Manhattan. Starting with the title of the blog (and then working backwards).... “You Have To Be Carefully Taught” is the title of one of the songs in South Pacific, which we saw on our second evening in town (Wednesday). It was a great decision - not to mention a last minute decision. Anyhow, we found ourselves blown away by the fact that even these old-school musicals have such great lessons to learn. In this case, it’s about racism not being natural. Rather, as the title suggests, it’s something that is taught. Sounds heavy, right. Well, it is, BUT South Pacific wraps it up in a wonderfully digestible package like only a Broadway show can. Undoubtedly, people walk away and think (at some point): “Hmmm, people who are perceived as different are sure treated like shit. That makes no sense at all.” At least we hope that people walk away and think that.
So, that was Wednesday... On Tuesday evening, we arrived and were feeling the NYC vibe full-on. We hopped online and secured tickets to the show the next night. It was up at the Lincoln Center, which is a really cool complex of buildings North of all the hubbub of the Theater District. Things couldn’t have gone better. We had great Mexican food ahead of time and were able to enjoy the long late summer walk back to the hotel after the show (helpful in decompressing after a THREE hour show). After getting “Some Enchanted Evening” out of our heads, we were able to sleep at about 1:00 a.m.
But, I’m ahead of things here. After 2 nearly enjoyable flights on Delta, we arrived in New York on Tuesday at about 4:30 p.m. We flew into Newwark and were able to jump on the NJ Transit for a train ride into the city. We got dropped off at Penn Station on 33rd and easily walked right to our hotel on 27th. Perfect.
We scored on our brand new hotel, The Mave, by getting a room for $119.00 a night. I don’t think a better deal exists in the city. The place was all shiny new with (probably) under 100 rooms, free WiFi and an interesting breakfast - out-of-the-ordinary breads and cheeses - thrown in for good measure. Our room was small - SMALL small but incredibly well appointed in its simplicity. The bed was great and the room actually stayed quiet, making up for the fact that one side of the bed was against a wall (see, I said it was SMALL small). And, really, to inject an overly used phrase.... Who stays in their room in NYC?!
Immediately after getting settled in, we zoomed off to the Shake Shack for a round of the wonderful food that we were turned onto in ‘07 before taking off to Africa. We had vegetarian mushroom burgers, french fries and a black & white shake. The setting is as good - maybe even better - than the food. It’s located right in Madison Square Park, complete with all sorts of seating from which to enjoy some of the most enjoyable and diverse people-watching ever.
After loading up on all that goodness, we went on a marathon walk around the city before calling it a night. By the way, it looks like Broadway has this new thing going on where they have placed all of these chairs and benches in the (now blocked to cars) street. It’s a good idea, but I don’t know if they’re pulling it off. Hmm....
Wednesday morning started huge. After our breads, cheeses and coffee, we went for a major run all along the river to the Brooklyn Bridge, across and back. We hadn’t before managed to get ourselves on that Bridge. The view is every bit as awesome as you hear. You see the full scope of the city. By noon, we were having the most expensive grilled cheese sandwich known to man. That’s all I want to say about that.
That afternoon, we walked South, through all of the neighborhoods to Battery City Park where we visited Mercy Corps’ Action Center. Mercy Corps is a charity that we have a lot of interest in, so we were eager to check out this center where they encourage/inspire visitors to think about the role they can play in committing to alleviating poverty and hunger. They have a very modern, interactive space where you can choose to lean into learning about whatever strikes you. At the end, visitors have the opportunity to select an action to commit to based on how much time you can give (an hour, a week, a month, etc.). It works! We left thoroughly inspired and reinvigorated in our quest to continually give back in life.
On the way back up to the hotel, we walked by Ground Zero in order to check out the current plan for the site. It looks like they’ve compromised in finding a design that’s satisfactory to everyone. It’s a combination of buildings and a memorial area. We got back to the room with barely enough time to breath before grabbing a coffee and heading up to the theater area for some pre South Pacific food and drink.
Since you already know about Wednesday night and South Pacific, we are now at Thursday morning. Following us? We spent the morning working and then rewarded ourselves with a return trip to the Shake Shack for more good food (frozen custard this time!). We then took off for a big walk over to the UN Plaza and up to Central Park, where we’ve spent time before but have never really explored. That all changed during this visit during which we actually got lost and ended up seeing a lot more than we had planned for. Sore feet!
Having gone over the top, overexerting ourselves with all of the exercise walking, we fell asleep back in the room. That messed with any hope for having any kind of substantial food for dinner, so we settled, instead, on pizza. We bought it from a grab-and-go vendor and ate it on the property of the library. It actually turned out to be a highlight, watching all of the rush hour hype unfold.
This time, we were heading up to the Booth Theater to see Next to Normal, a more modern musical about a bipolar woman and her family (and the hell they all endure). Some people come to NY to see the Lion King; we come to see the most depressing show imaginable. Some of the people involved with the creation of Rent were involved with bringing Next to Normal to the stage. It was out of this world. Great music, great acting (the lead won a Tony) and a powerful message about life, suffering and happiness. First South Pacific, now this. So much learning going on.
One again, we were buzzing all the way back to the room.
That brings us to today. After a run - and one last round of bread and cheese - we made our way back to Penn Station. This time, we made our way to JFK Airport via the Long Island Rail system. In just about 45 minutes, we were at the Jet Blue counter checking into our flight up to Vermont.
That’s where things stand now. We’re heading up to Canada to check out Montreal before wrapping things up in Vermont.
Watch for more.