Friday, September 14, 2007

A few more NYC highlights

Yeah, I know, I'm being lame. But between starting my new job and watching the entire second series of Doctor Who on DVD (geekout!!), my days have been busier recently than they have for the past couple of months.

I intend to pick up the pace a little, but meanwhile, here are some of the highlights of our NYC trip (apart from those involving fantastically hirsute Mexicans, obviously).

The Richard Serra exhibit at MOMA
Twelve-foot-high metal walls; not what one would consider emotionally compelling. But these long ribbons of steel, curved into corridors and rooms, the walls tilting inward and outward, are so unexpected and, well, just frickin' ridiculous in scale that they made me almost giddy. And I'm sure Serra was thinking, "Let's make the walls go this way! Wooo! That'll mess with their heads!"

The surfaces of the indoor sculptures were striated with subtle shifts in color--rusts and reds and browns and golds, smooth to the touch (though the security guards discourage tactile interaction. And indoor photography. Ha).

The sculptures in the garden were fabulously scarred and full of character.

Check out
MOMA's site about the exhibit (cleverly designed so it's not immediately clear how you access the content--it's called usability, people!), especially the videos. Serra is cool.

Central Park Zoo
Despite numerous strolls through the park and my zoo fixation, somehow we'd never amalgamated the two until this trip. It being a gorgeous Sunday morning, the place was a sea of ankle-biters demanding forbidden treats ("but I want to play with the monkeys!") and, perched on parental shoulders, shrieking at unearthly levels into the ears of unwitting bystanders.

Also way too many frazzled moms trying to navigate SUV-sized strollers up and down the zoo's narrow staircases, which leads one to wonder whether the place wasn't intended for children who could ambulate independently. And also hold conversations and maybe fix drinks. Just simple ones, mind you; highballs, screwdrivers, that sort of thing. We're not talking Ramos Gin Fizzes here. A couple of ingredients and some ice, is all.

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Ice. Polar bears.

I have trouble watching shows about global warming because they invariably include a shot of a lone polar bear adrift on a dwindling chunk of ice, along with mournful music and the narrator explaining sadly how they're kinda screwed. So getting to see one up close--swimming around his deep pool, powerful and graceful--was quite moving.

Oh, also: best paws ever. (For scale, note the kid's hand bottom left.)

We also saw bats, sea lions, boas, colobus monkeys, penguins and red pandas.

And then, because it was lunchtime, we went to see a French bistro that served a lovely salade ni├žoise.

Though inauthentic, the chunks of French bread slathered in olive tapenade were a genius touch.

Our friend Amy had offered us the use of her membership to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was another place I'd never been. "And," she'd said, "you have to go check out the rooftop garden. It's one of my favorite views of the city."

It started out pleasantly enough: a stroll past
the Temple of Dendur, a wander through the American Decorative Arts, a quick gape at the 165-foot-long painting of the garden at Versailles. And then, after consulting the map, we thought we'd cross to the other side of the building to check out the Modern Art collection (because we hadn't had our fill at MOMA).

This would have been relatively simple, were it not for the fact that half the rooms in the middle of the building were apparently closed for construction/refurbishment/hygrometer resynchronization, so every route we chose ended with a locked door and a surly guard.

Eventually we decided to go directly to roof, where we found Frank Stella sculptures, champagne and--as Amy had promised--a fabulous vista. I especially like the way the hedging around the roof seems to blend seamlessly with the trees of the park below.

A pleasant end to a fun trip. If you want to see more,
check out photos from this trip on Flickr.

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