March 4, 2016
(corrected 3/10/16 for morning coffee stop)
We awoke to our second day in New York with some snow. Not very much but enough to show the city in a slightly different light.
We had arranged to have breakfast with Jonathan and his parents, but not until 9:30 am. Actual eating was later because we stopped off to see Jon’s place first. However, for Cathie and me coffee is important, so we went to Tar Pits on 135 Woodpoint Rd – a short walk. As you can see from the photo (not mine) the Tar Pit would be at home in many cities – Berkeley and Ft. Collins come immediately to mind.
After coffee we walked to Jon’s on Kingsland Ave. Recall that his place is about 3 blocks from our room. It was great to see Jon again. A while back we saw some of Jon’s art work in Marfa, TX. There, one of his slow motion car crashes was on display. Google “jonathan schipper slow motion car crash”. We also met his girlfriend Masha, who hails from Crimea. Jon gave us a tour of his shops which are quite impressive. He has a few others working for him, including an instructor at NYU who teaches philosophy! Alas I only took one decent picture.
Finally it was time for breakfast. After much group decision making we ended up at Hummus Market also on Graham Ave. I have not had hummus for breakfast before, but treated more like the brunch that it was, it was great. We ordered various dishes and passed them around.
Cathie very much wanted to go to the American Museum of Natural History, so we left the others to their respective days and took the L train to its terminus at 8th Ave. We transferred to the A train but discovered that it was an express, so had to hop off at 59th St and transfer to a local, the E train I think. The NYC subway system is terrific in my opinion, but one needs to be careful.
We got off at the 81st St station which is right next to the museum and Central Park. It turns out that tickets could be had by donation (whatever you think is fair), but we felt fine going with the suggested senior rate of $17 per person. The museum is huge and we still had only seen a portion of it after two hours. One of the museums biggest attractions (in all sense of the word) is the Titanosaur – a colossal sauropod discovered in the Patagonian desert region of Argentina. It is 122 ft head to tail and doesn’t quite fit in the room it is set up in.
From the museum we walked through a portion of Central park heading toward Times Square. The park of this size (700 acres) is pretty incredible for any city, and is a testament to city planners and promoters back in the mid-1800s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park). It was not crowded, which was not surprising given the chill, but I can easily imagine multitudes on a warm spring day.
According to Wikipedia Times Square was formerly Longacre Square but was renamed in 1904 after The New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building, the site of the annual New Year’s ball drop. It is said to be one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the world, but again the time of year and chilly weather probably kept the numbers down. Still, there were lots of people.
Our last tourist stop for the day was the New York Public Library. For anyone that watched the scientifically questionable sci-fi movie The Day After Tomorrow, the NYPL was were the kids holed up as much of the northern hemisphere froze. Cathie had loftier goals, really wanting to see the Rose Reading Room. Unfortunately it is closed until 2017 (asbestos was found when a ceiling tile fell). As a consolation I have included a picture I copied from Wikipedia. It is grand room. We didn’t actually see where all the books are kept, but I’m confident they are there someplace.
We took the subway back to our room for a short rest. We had arranged to have dinner with Leslie, Charles, and Lily at 6:30 pm. Traveling across Brooklyn to Leslie’s would be our opportunity to use Uber for the first time. It really went well, and our driver congratulated us shock and my hand when I told him that we were first time users. The only fly in the ointment was that I gave him the wrong address. I more or less figured out what happened – I had the street address the same as Leslie’s area code – which translated to a mile and a half short. I suppose we should have used Uber again, but we chose to walk. We were late but everyone was forgiving, including Cathie. We had Chinese take-out and a good visit. I had met Charles and Lily at the wedding last May, but Cathie didn’t attend so this was her first visit with them. Lily was full of energy and had many things to tell us. Charles has just finished his second book: Alice & Oliver, due out on April 5, 2016. Also of impressive note, at least for NPR listeners, is that Charles will be on Fresh Air. Not sure when, but if you hear Terry Gross is going to do a segment with author Charles Bock, tune in or catch it as a podcast.
Leslie, as always, was a delight to see and visit with. She is so open. Perhaps this is why her writing is so good. I think she said options for movie rights to her book Empathy Exams have been discussed/optioned. I may not have that exactly right, but it sounds great to me. We did agree that making a movie based on the book would be a challenge, but that is what script writers are for.
I’ll close by stating that we were able to use Uber to get back to our room without any hiccups. I think Uber is a great way to get around, even if I arrived at that conclusion rather late in the game.