Summer in the City

So, we took a quick weekend trip to the City.  It began as a Father’s Day gift for Ned: tickets to see Penn & Teller in their six week Broadway residency.  We figured we’d go down for that and maybe TKTS another show or hit up some museums.  A nice, relaxing weekend in New York City.
Have you read this blog?  
Yep, that wasn’t going to happen 🙂
We rushed from the airport through the very congested, summer traffic, road constructed streets of New York …
to our hotel: this time the Intercontinental Times Square.  Let me insert this: as may have become clear, I LOVE TO PLAN TRAVEL but what may not always be clear is that I LOVE TO DO IT AS CHEAPLY AS POSSIBLE.  So, I spend a lot of time late at night comparing various sites, identifying hotels on Hotwire and Priceline so I can compare these “discounts” to website rates, finding the lowest costs and figuring out if it’s cheaper to buy it all separately or book a package.  If that doesn’t make me sound nerdy enough, you’ll typically find me doing this while I watch House Hunters.  
All of that is to say, I got a pretty good Expedia package on flights and a room at the IC at the height of travel season.  And, our room had a lovely view.  We literally spent 40 minutes one day watching them move the cars around this elevated lot, giving character voices to all the workers and parkers 🙂

Here was our initial Friday plan: head over to the new Whitney, wander the HIgh Line, move it uptown to Rosa Mexicano, and see Ant-Man in IMAX at Lincoln Square.  That was set in stone until about 9 pm Thursday, when my obsessive search for reasonably priced Hamilton tickets paid off!  Four center rear mezz tix for Friday dropped to my price point, and I snagged them.  But what about Ant-Man?

Ta-dah: Empire 25 was two blocks from our hotel, complete with IMAX 3D and hellah comfy seats available for the 1 pm show.  We grabbed some shwarma at Maoz en route, and rolled in full of pita and hummus ready for Marvel.

Our path from the movies to the Stub Hub box office conveniently took us past Midtown Comics and the radioactive flame of pop culture heaven drew us in like moths to consumerism.

After dropping our purchases back at the room, we caught dinner at the always reliable, always delicious, and always demurely decorated Ruby Foo’s.  Nothing beats their small plates menu for sharing and eating more food than expected.  Yum!

Then, Hamilton.  This is a craz-mazing show that lives up to and–if possible–surpasses the hype.  Every performance rocks (and raps) it.  You scream with delight at the humor, the power, the musicality of language in the first act, and are brought down to pure human emotion in the inevitable sadness of the end.  I had to keep myself from sobbing.  I’ve never leaned forward as much in a musical wanting to bathe it all in.  Three things I didn’t anticipate:  how much Jonathan Groff’s King George owns the stage when he’s there; how much pride and joy I felt watching today’s America play America; how much the end of this story is Eliza Hamilton’s.  Just gorgeous.  Go, go, go!

Beautiful theater!

And, then right next door, we ran into Penn Jillette doing an interview for the show we’d see Saturday.

Harper and I went on to shop; the boys headed back to Empire 25 to see Mad Max: Fury Road for the 3rd and 2nd time respectively.  Penn delighted in wandering Times Square around 2 am with his dad.  Memories!  And, a sleepy Saturday morning that follows a late Friday night.

I was up by 7 am, working on reports in the hotel restaurant. They managed to struggle out of bed just in time for us to catch lunch next door to the IC at Shake Shack before we took the subway to the Lower East Side, running into the Tenement Museum to catch up with our afternoon tour: Foods of the Lower East Side.

The Tenement Museum has become one of our favorites, and we have wanted to do the food tour for some time.  But, it has limited offerings that sell out quickly.  Lucky us, we got four spots on a 90+ degree day. 

The two hour tour takes one through the history of the neighborhood through food–both old school and modern interpretations–everything from pretzels to pickles to more trendy foods like black sesame cream puffs.

Candy!  This family owns the building, and the son just quit his Wall Street Hedge Fund job to keep the store going into the next generation.  Wonder if it’s profitable? 🙂

Mandela mural next to Economy Candy.  Mural art in the LES is off the hook!

Bill C’s got no fans on the LES.
A decomissioned temple now used as an artist’s residence and studio. 

Claws!

Gambling … very colorful gambling.

A mural representing the orchard that used to be on Orchard Street–home of the Tenement Museum.  The grandparents of one of our tour mates actually used to live on Orchard Street.  Cool!

After a refreshing cool off at the hotel–and more parking lot watching–we had pre-magic dinner at Aureole’s Liberty Room.  Delish!  Definitely save room for dessert!

We got to the Marquis Theater just in time to admire the high tech stage.  Each panel represented a part of P&T’s act that night, which we learned as the show went on.  

Audience members got to go on stage before the show.  Two of our party took up the invitation … One of them started dancing, prompting the older woman behind me to say, “Look at that little boy dancing.” Then, the little boy waved at me, and I waved back.  She kept further comments to herself.

Harpe and I enjoyed our cushy seats.

There was a bit of confusion when we walked in, so I didn’t get a program.  I mention this because when Penn told a very engaging story about fire eating and the power of magic, I thought, “Oh, it’s intermission.”  Nope.  It was two hours after we sat down and the show was over.  How did that happen?!  There were moments in this show when everyone in the audience gasped and laughed all in one breath.  True entertainment.  Penn and Teller are masters of their craft and art and it shows in every aspect of the show, including their enjoyment of it all.
To top it off, after the show ended, they both stood in the lobby, greeting all they met, making time for photos, brief conversation, autographs.  Penn met Penn and said he was the 7th Penn he’d met.  Just true gentlemen …

And, Teller TOOK this photo!

Two strangers took this one, and we reciprocated.

Then, we grabbed a slice, and Ned defended the honor of a young woman in the bathroom with her daughter from the door-kicking onslaught of two drunk twenty-somethings.  The pizza had super crispy crust, though, which was really more important in the long run.
We wandered past the weed-bus to our hotel.

And called it another successful NY night.

We had a very late flight out on Sunday, so we could recover our lost Friday Whitney visit.  I started us off with some breakfast in bed courtesy of mom’s trip to Starbucks, but we still paused at the Gansevoort Market on the way.  The crepe line was too long …

so we punted and got these crazy delicious, sugar-filled birthday cake cookie muffins.

And sugar crunchy artisanal* lemonade (*officially required Meatpacking district designation).

On the way to the Whitney, do not take any feature for granted, including manhole covers.

Even on a 95 degree day, the lure of the new Whitney’s outdoor spaces is irresistible.  The Freedom Tower stands tall and the Statue of Liberty stands a bit smaller in the distance.

We love art!

Voici, it’s the High Line.

“Boy in a Lucite Box.”  Take that Jeff Koons!
Performance art.  Are we really nostalgic for the 80s already?  It takes a lot to move performance art from parody to sublimnity.  This stalled.
The “putting our thoughts elsewhere while a woman wails in the corner” Kress girl look.

“You Are Blocking My Beverage of Choice.”  Take that Barbara Kruger.

“Evil Twins Confronting the Camera.” Take that Mary Ellen Mark.

“Family Circus.”  Take that Bill Keene and Joseph Cornell.

Penn as a tall sculpture.
“The Heat of the Day.” Take that George Segal.

“Children at Play.” Take that Charles Ray.

Real art outside.

These chairs are part of an outdoor sculptural exhibit.  I don’t know if they’re moveable, but these were already in the shade.

Suddenly, this appeared in the sky.  Real proposal?  Temporary art installation?  Does it matter?  Does anything matter?  Ah, art.

The lighted stairwell.  I want one of these!

Hint–get to the new Whitney early.  We arrived about 30 minutes after they opened and walked right in; when we left, the line curved around the block.  Our verdict on the new Whitney: Loved it!!

We decided to walk the High Line to Chelsea Market for a late lunch.  So hot, but still lovely.

Penn rules the High Line!

Manhattan in relief; Kress-Davis family in relief in the shade.

Cellist in a tux because High Line.

People’s Pops save the day–Concord Grape, Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger, Blueberry Peach, so cold, so sweet (BTW, I have their cookbook–delish!).  As does the foot pool.  Brought the temperature down about 15 degrees.

Then, boom, into the fray that is Chelsea Market on a Sunday.  Our first time there: we were starving.  Grabbed some unbelievably good tacos, a super trendy Vietnamese hoisin meatball sandwich, watermelon juice, tiny infused sugar fresh donuts (mulled apple, pumpkin, bacon, and cocoa), a nutella crepe (finally, Harper’s wish is fulfilled), and a cop-recommended gelato (tiramisu and cayenne pepper chocolate).  Success!

More awesome lights!

Yay, Chelsea Market!
With our last few hours, we caught another movie (planned for Trainwreck–sold out; opted for Spy–again, Melissa McCarthy is a genius!).  Then, with an hour delay, we ate late dinner at the new Delta JFK terminal, which is so Euro but filled with Danny Meyer restaurants.  Had the best server ever at the Blue Smoke take out–gave us soda refills and actually down-sold our order. 
We love you, New York!  Be back soon!

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