A Quick New York Trip

July 6, 2014 at 10:17 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I started a new job last week which has caused all sorts of stress and is one of the principal reasons, I’ve been silent of the post-front of late. But, before the job started, I managed to work in a quick trip to New York.

I’ve lived in Toronto off and on for almost three decades now, and I’m very fond of the place, but whenever I travel to New York, I am forcibly made aware of just how tiny Toronto is. New York is…well, an assault on the senses. I mean that in a positive way, but in the short space of a city block you can experience the scent of the best pizza you’ve every smelt, human sweat, perfume, ice-cream and urine. Yeah, yeah, I know you can experience than in many cities, but it just seems so New York.

I like to fly Porter Airlines out of Toronto not because it’s cheaper or more convenient, but because I feel more like a person than cattle. Oh, and while they now charge $25 for checked luggage, snacks and alcohol are still complimentary (alas, the days of the vegetarian sandwich are over). Porter though flies into Newark which usually means a 25 minute train ride to Penn Station. Except…the train lines are down and so I found myself on a bus which crawled through New Jersey traffic to New Jersey’s Penn Station. A quick stop to find my place, and I was on a train into Manhattan.

Problem number two appeared when I arrived at my hotel near the Empire State Building. It turned out I had made my reservation for the following month. Huh? I starred and the confirmation sheet I had printed, and sure enough it was for July 27. Luckily, there was room and I ended up with a room cheaper than he rate I had earlier been quoted.

So then it was off to explore Manhattan. Whenever I go to New York, I always feel I’m just scratching the surface, so I made planned to spend time in other areas, but very quickly I found myself at the Strand bookstore picking up used books , including a set of essays by Kim Gordon Is This My Body? Old habits die hard. At the end of the first day, I found myself exhausted with a splitting headache. Not an auspicious start.

Day 2 was better, and began with a trip to the Guggenheim. The exhibition I was interesting in seeing was on Italian Futurism. Futurism , like its leftist cousins in surrealism and Dada, rejected bourgeois society talking in revolutionary terms. Futurism however seemed to glorify destruction and build in a backward looking nationalism. It’s no accident that the blurb for the exhibition spoke of Futurism’s “complicated” relationship with Italian fascism. Complicated seems to be a little mild. The Futurists clearly aspired to be the official art movement of Fascism, but the fascists weren’t that interested as Il Duce’s tastes were a little more traditional. Always the bridesmaid. Still, if you can tear yourself away from that, (and it’s hard when you saw dinner plates inscribed with Fascism and Futurism), some of the art was tremendous. Heavily influenced by impressionism, and cubism as well as new techniques in sculpture and photography, the exhibition was astonishing.

At the end of the day, I took the ferry over to Staten Island to attend the Lumin Festival. The festival, now in its fifth year, is an installation by local artists working in a variety of forms (TV, video, sculpture, puppetry, etc) all in a vaguely post-apocalyptic venue down by the water. The festival stretched about half a mile along the water’s edge, and I very quickly noticed that we were a part of the show just as much as the installations (OK< maybe not quite as much). It was interesting to hear a babble of languages as people walked back and forth under the night sky (fireworks from Brooklyn were also visible which made for a nice co-incidence). It was very different from the dry atmosphere of the Guggenheim, but no less interesting.

My thirds day was spent on Staten Island with friends (likely the subject of another post), but I did wander around the streets for an hour or so)
Monday was my last day in the city, and I headed back into Manhattan for see a couple of sites. I wandered past the Weathermen house (I was surprised not to see a plaque), past the Chelsea Hotel and past a house where Kerouac lived. The most interesting thing for me though was the High Line. A former industrial train track now reclaimed an above ground city park stretching from the meatpacking district up to 32nd street or so. It offers some very interesting views of the city, and serves as another oasis from people. I trudged up to Port Authority and took the bus to Newark. And then it was back to Toronto.

New York has become my go-to getaway city, but each trip never turns out the way I imagine it will. And that’s probably a good thing.

1 Comment

  1. New York, You’re Killing Me | Notes from Underground said,

    […] went to New york twice this year; not bad. I was in New York for a weekend in June without incident, so maybe I got cocky. About a month after the trip I was talking to my younger […]

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