Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finally! Some Snow!

Perhaps it came because it was supposed to. Just in time to lend this Holiday Week a little flare, don't you think?

So, my son and I were gifted by Mom with two tickets to see "A Little Night Music" at the Matinee showing on the day after Christmas. I would meet him there - so what does the Street Teacher do? He walks there.

Here I am walking down the west side of 5th Avenue, passing the Pulitzer Fountain, which features the bronze allegorical figure of Pomona - the goddess of abundance! Ah, Christmas is only partially over.

The snow has yet to begin falling in volume, but it is beginning to shower down.

As I look across the intersection of 57th St. and 5th Avenue toward Tiffany's, I see the dampened street, and can see the flurries of snow beginning to whiten the black truck as it crosses. Yes, the forecast was definite: there will be snow.

I walk on down 5th Avenue, and over at 54th Street - just because, you see - and re-discover the great walkways between the blocks of 5th and 6th that can take me through to 52nd Street! Brilliant! Not everything has to be at right angles - or, at least, at such great lengths between them.

So, I begin my walk down the Alley.

Wow, I thought, looking at the Equitable Building portion (on the right) - this is great in the snow.

I wonder how many people really discover this part of the city? It's like opening gifts sealed with velcro: you can leave them, and "close" them up - and come back and they're still fresh. Look -

Now, I really wonder just why an elephant is here. Perhaps I'll take the time soon to ask someone in "authority" there if there is a reason. Perhaps some of you know already. If so, please write a comment - teach me. I'm open to news of all kinds.

But it is a beautiful creation - and the dancer on his head?

Well, why not?

But, that's not all.

I am getting close to my destination - the Walter Kerr Theatre at 218 West 48th Street - and one of the two theaters named after a critic (Kerr won the Pulitzer Prize; Brooks Atkinson is the other critic with a theater) - so I'm hoping I'm just minutes away.

Yet, before I reach the end of my magical alley, there's a leaping rabbit! Seeming so incongruous, don't you think? Looks as if he is leaping out of a hat. Curiouser and curiouser.

But there it is - the theater.

My son's there somewhere - and in we go to see the show. Which was, by the way, fantastic. After all, when you're in the second row, orchestra, and so close to the stars, the magic of the stage just rises up to your brain and charges all your nerves. And we were seated behind four lovely ladies from Florida who loved the theater: Hope, Patti, Susan, and Ginger. They could have such theatrical last names, don't you think?

I took no photos of the show as I was watching it, of course. Take it from me, since the show closes January 9, you would have a very enjoyable evening or afternoon. (And this may be one of the few shows that will close twice within a year. The first production, starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury, closed June 20, 2010, but re-opened with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch on July 13.)

By the way, the songs in A Little Night Music were written by Stephen Sondheim (who now also has a theater named after himself). The show's song list is: Overture and Night Waltz, Now - Later - Soon, The Glamorous Life, Remember?, You Must Meet My Wife, Liaisons, In Praise of Women, Every Day a Little Death, A Weekend in the Country, The Sun Won't Set, It Would Have Been Wonderful, Perpetual Anticipation, Send In the Clowns (perhaps the most well known), The Miller's Son, and Finale.

So, after the finale, we left the theater to - snow and wind. Brrr!

Windbown and dazzled by the lights, and left by my son who immediately went off to meet one of his friends, I walk on back homewards.

Radio City glows among the snowflakes on W. 50th Street, and shines over the traffic on 6th Avenue. Something warming about that, I think.

I walk up 6th Avenue a couple of blocks - and I really didn't expect to see one, but here it is: a hot dog vendor.

Would you have thought one would be out in this weather? I didn't go up for a dog, or to see how he was doing, but most of the vendors I've seen lately do their best to cheer you up by with their enthusiastic participation in the whole holiday cheer.

I wonder if the doorman at the Warwick Hotel, right behind him, ever comes over for a little refreshment?

I was able to walk pretty efficiently back that evening, you should know, because, well, there weren't many cars at all - even on 5th Avenue.

But it only made the lights on the Fendi store (the one on the right) so much brighter.

I walked over toward Madison, and in a few blocks I was into the residential neighborhood of the East 60's between Madison and Park Avenues.

The homes on East 64th Street are freshly layered in snow, and the expanse of Park Avenue as I look to the left, northward, is empty of vehicles.

These are the times that make living in the City almost intimate encounters with its essence. Each of us will stage our own encounter as if we would imagine an ancient narrative.

I look down Park Avenue to the south, toward the Waldorf and Grand Central Terminal - invisible in the far snow shadowed distance, but present in my mind nonetheless. But I'm heading north and east, away from that world.

I walk down my street - and when I reach those bright lights, well, I'm home. Time to let all these images settle. Good night!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What To Do for the Holidays? Shop?

Yes, it's that time again! The "spirit" is being released - in fact you only have to look across the street:
I couldn't catch them all - a whole squadron surged down the street to the right when I took this picture! Santas everywhere!

I was at Union Square, you see, for I wanted to get some idea of the variety of, well - of things and people really, which and who were out and about on this Saturday just two weeks from Christmas.

Egad! Just two weeks! Fourteen days! And I haven't even sent my cards yet!

Oh, you know how it is, you're consumed with your life, your job, your other responsibilities - and wasn't Thanksgiving just a few days ago? Well, yes, but ....

Let's walk into the Holiday Mall .....

The whole neighborhood was thronged (I'm willing to be tagged for that word!) with shoppers and - mallers? - so I was really up against the people of the season. I did see some very intriguing stalls.

Yes, a lot of people just beginning to shop, and a lot of "stuff" that they could buy.

But, what are these squshy animals? Pillows? "Yes, and they're washable too.

Who would have imagined ...

And they (you know, "them," who carry everything and do everything you don't have any control over?) have a lot of these little usables (it has to be a word) that you can't do without. I'm not close enough for you to identify them, but, well, you get the idea.

I walked around trying to get an idea of the variety, but there were so many people, and so many stalls, that I really had to be very gentle and diplomatic - "Excuse me! Thank you very much!" - as I walked so I didn't jostle anyone. Hmm, and it could have been an enterprise for purse snatchers and pick-pockets too, come to think of it. Be careful!

But you had to look - and wonder: who could live without this? More than a conversation piece, but a whole afternoon's cocktail party could, well, just spring from that nice jaunty hat. No?

And of course you'll need gloves and mittens, right?

Yes, perhaps at no place other than a Christmas gift mall can you see the great variety of man's creativity and enterprise. When was the last time, for example, that you saw this:

Yes! Why have a frog at all if it can't "ribbitt"!

And so I walked on. I wondered what else there might be on sale ....

Oh, yes. Can't forget the dog! After all, as I do tell everyone, there's one dog for every four people who live in Manhattan (1.62 million, so more than 400,000 dogs). I do wonder, as I'm sure you do too, just how these dogs feel (they do feel, of course) sitting in these clownish things ... right?

But, excuse me? Hanging Monkeys? Hmm. Maybe from the tree limbs ... from a needle maybe ... and I'll be some people just can't have too many - right?

And yes, there were some more, well, stylish items to wear - for the season!

Actually, they did look quite attractive. Hmm.

But there were some stalls that, well, I thought took liberties with their inspiration, if that's what it was. I mean, would Zapata have a stall at the mall? Really? For handbags?

I saw this one, however, and I knew from my memories of Dr. Zhivago that Russia does indeed have winters. So, I had to see what they had to offer.

Yes, quite colorful dolls and I think I see -

"No take photograph please."

And I was summarily rushed out of there! Who would have imagined! Well! That certainly quashed my voyeuristic Christmas spirit, I will tell you. So, I thought in a huff, I shall walk out.

As I leave, however, what do I see but what you will see in many New York City parks: a chess game! Long live chess!