Sunday, June 28, 2009

The High Line is UP!

Oh, I went walking Friday. Ever done it? I mean, just go walking ... with a general goal, but you've got time, the weather's good - even your friends are with you on the phone but hundreds of miles away - just walking. A beautiful day ....

I was walking up Waverly Place, then over to West 4th Street, then along Hudson Street - then I saw this:

Yes! I said to myself - life is good!

So, I walked on. Maybe I'll walk through the Meatpacking neighborhood. After all, I was heading up to the Circle Line offices to talk with Mike Duffy, their Port Captain, so that was on the way. But, as often happens, a young lady stopped in front of me, looking at a map. "You know where high line is?" She asked.

Yes! I do!

We walked along W. 13th Street then together. She is from Brooklyn, and was going to meet some of her friends at the "main entrance" to the High Line; I said "Sure! Follow me!" as if I knew where it was ... but I did know where it was, just I have never been there - "You know, this will be my first time too!"
The Meatpacking district has changed so that it is far more attractive than many could have imagined, and the High Line is the grace note that flies over it and takes it to, well, sorry, I can't help it: another level!

We arrived, and my friend took to the steps.

Wow, I thought, this is really nicely done ... I wonder what it will look like above, on the - track bed?

I may be a tour guide, but the element of my life that is excited by guiding is, I think it's called, the explorer gene! I just love finding new places. Even if I'm not the first one there - it's the first for me, so that's exciting.

Just look! It seemed that the new "bed" evoked the past with its rail-like separations. But it was a stylized evocation. Do you see the rising "rail" in the center of the picture on the left? That's a bench! And there are many of them all along the High Line, graceful notes of reminders that afford a peaceful perch for contemplation. The Park Rangers are there too, as if it's another opening day (which was June 9, 2009). And it's not raining.

There is a hotel, already, built over the High Line, but there is much to see as we walk along.

But as I approach the hotel ... do I see a ... model? In the center of this picture to your right ....

Yes! I get closer and I see a long legged beauty posing for a fashion shoot, no doubt, her hair being positioned just so.

But, there's more to see, so rather than wait for her to turn around and wave at me, I walk on! (Ever your intrepid, dedicated blogger ....)

For, I discover, there's another work of art being composed just near by. Let's look.

See? I can get an attractive model willing to pose for me too! This is his first day on the High Line, and everything he's wearing is brand new! Fresh as a new flower, our Park Ranger is, and happy to be here too. In fact, the next day he will be at the pool on E. 77th Street - right next to where I live!

Let's walk on. There is more, and another work of art to be completed ... just up the trail from here ....

A painter applies the extra daubs of paint to make his picture more complete, more evocative of his feelings and perceptions from the high line.

I asked him, of course, if I could take his picture, and he shrugged OK. I understand.

As I walked on, I saw what he was painting, and it was W. 14th Street, right below him. Still, maybe not the Meatpacking district any more, but still busy with business. And, business is good. See?

And I think I'll finish my High Line blog about now with a little meeting I had with more visitors to this new attraction.

I didn't get their names - sorry! - but they were a happy couple, life-long Brooklyn residents, who had come here years ago only for the Homestead Steak restaurant. They now spend their winters in Florida, but ... maybe now ... they'll have more reason to come back to Manhattan! Here they are:

I think they'll be back to the High Line, don't you? After all, it's all good!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The New Museum - on Fathers Day!

Today my son took me to the New Museum on the Bowery, where I had never been, and we both saw things we could never have imagined. New art: The Generational: Younger Than Jesus. All art by people younger than 34.

But, can you imagine: art as a young woman sleeping under a comforter, on a white bed, among museum visitors? Yes! Thanks to the aid of sleeping pills!

Oh, I'll just post the pictures and let you make of it what you will!

There was also a chair that seemed quite presidential - but what was on the chair was electronic debris: wires, transisters and the like, all as if the entity there had melted away, leaving all that debris as well as a brown liquid-like smear all over the seat! And the flags! What to make of that? We older people may wonder ....!

But then there was, toward the end of the exhibition, on the ground floor, a room full of real debris!

But, let's look closer at those signs on the wall:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"People to People" to Philadelphia

My jobs as a tour guide can include more than New York. Yesterday I joined a bus load of talented high school students from around the world, who are in residence at Columbia University for a trip to Philadelphia. As part of their ten days at Columbia, these aspiring business students - although not all were convinced that business was their ultimate goal - were to visit Philadelphia to see the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and other sites as we could fit them in, followed by a short tour of the Campus of the University of Pennsylvania and particularly the Wharton School of Business. I met them under the pedestrian bridge at Columbia at 116th Street and Amsterdam Avenue at 7am - early!

But, there is an even greater significance to this group. These children are all brought together under the auspices of an organization called People to People International. People to People International is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication within each community, and across communities and nations. Tolerance and mutual understanding are central themes. While not a partisan or political institution, PTPI supports the basic values and goals of its founder, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I learned that it was founded on September 11, 1956 (exactly 45 years before the fateful 9/11 we all seem to know only too well) by President Eisenhower, who said: "I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals."

They all came with box breakfasts, and all seemed to have made friends with each other during the week, certainly fulfilling at least one of the purposes of People to People's founder. I soon learned that "all over the world" was almost an understatement. There were three from Macedonia; at least three from South Africa, a number from Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, China, Taiwan, Latvia - and no doubt other places as well. All spoke English, and although interested in business, really had quite different interests after all.

We congregated in the entry Hall of the National Constitution Center, and I drew their attention to a very interesting "corner": "What Will You Do With Freedom?" Post-it pads and pencils are provided for anyone to post their response - anything from "drive a car," to "protest my grades" were up there!

We visited the University of Pennsylvania later in the afternoon, after lunch and a visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall - and a walk to the Betsy Ross House where we saw performers in period costume enacting scenarios from colonial to pre-civil war times. But, for many, the key attraction was Penn, and particularly the Wharton School of Business. In fact, as we got off the bus, a student from Lebanon asked: "Where is it? Can I touch it?"

Really, he has dreamed about Wharton since he was little, he said. Such stuff dreams are made of, right? So, here are some of those dreamers!

I think Benjamin Franklin will look out for them, don't you?!