:: Monday, February 24, 2003 ::
Welcome to the longest post in history. Grab that cup of Chai, sit back, and read away.
What a wonderful weekend trip! I got up early on Saturday morning and took the subway to Boston’s Chinatown, where the charter bus left for New York at 7 a.m. I was tired, so I slept most of the way, but it was a four-hour ride with a stop in a town in Connecticut. It was cloudy and raining heavily, so I didn’t really see any familiar landmarks from faraway; I wasn't sure that we were almost there until the bus crossed Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan. We arrived at about 11 a.m., and the bus stopped at an obscure street in New York’s Chinatown. Thus, I had to stop and ask for directions a couple of times. I finally found my way to a nearby subway stop.
One great thing about New York (among a gazillion others) is the subway system. Although it costs $1.50 to get to anywhere in the city via the subway (it’s only $1 in Boston), day passes for unlimited rides are available for just $4. It's a great deal, considering how much the subway will be used to get places. So I walked up to a cool touch-screen kiosk, deposited my money, and out popped a cool credit-card sized pass with a magnetic strip that you just swipe at the turnstile (like Disneyland!). I took the subway and I had to make a connection at Grand Central Station, so I stopped and took a few pictures. It is magnificent. The high, painted ceiling was bordered with detailed stonework. Then I boarded the 7 Train and made my way to Flushing in the New York borough of Queens. There, I met up with my aunt, who is visiting a college friend who is now an acupuncturist.
We had a wonderful lunch in Flushing’s Chinatown. Then my aunt and I took the subway to Times Square, where we spent a little time shopping. The place is huge. All the buildings surrounding the square are many stories tall. I never really realized what a small-town guy I was until I was in New York, gawking at the tall buildings and crowded streets. The ads lining the streets were huge, also. There was this five-story-tall model in underwear right on the street. The huge video screens flashing advertisements were impressive as well. Too bad the weather was so horrible; the rain was pouring, and the wind was freezing. My aunt and I walked a few blocks down from Times Square to 42nd Street, Broadway, and we managed to procure tickets for a Broadway show: The Producers. The prices were steep: $100 per person, but I suspected they would be worth it, considering the rave reviews it received when it opened a couple of years ago.
We then took the subway to Central Park, where we stopped only briefly because the rain was so bad. Then we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw a special temporary exhibit showcasing the largest collection ever of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches. It really says something when people wait in line up to an hour just to see sketches from your notebook. It really was incredible. We saw Leonardo da Vinci’s early sketches when he studied the anatomy of humans and animals. We also saw some sketches for some of his most famous works, most notably The Last Supper. His amazingly delicate drawings really reveal his genius and remarkable talent. It really was worth the wait.
By this time, it was almost 7 p.m., so we grabbed a quick sushi dinner from a small restaurant. We took the subway back to 44th Street and made it just in time for the 8 p.m. showing of The Producers. It turns out that we had fourth-row tickets! We would be seeing the critically acclaimed musical in a couple of the best seats in the house. After much anticipation, the musical began.
The Producers is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. (Yes, even more thrilling than The Vagina Monologues.) I was blown away by the huge production numbers, the extraordinarily talented actors and actress, the sweeping and full score (provided by a live orchestra), and the colorful and detailed sets that moved in from the sides and descended from the ceiling. The Producers is absolutely hilarious. The musical tells the story of a couple of guys who want to get rich by producing the worst possible musical in Broadway history; by producing a flop, the show will close very quickly, and the con-men producers will get to keep all the money put in by the investors (a bunch of little old ladies). So they pick out the worst script, actors, director in the business. The end result is the unbelievably hilarious “Springtime for Hitler and Germany: A gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgarden,” which portrays the evil dictator as an effeminate queen making his way up the political scene. This play within a play was the highlight of the production, and it absolutely must be seen.
There were many show-stopping numbers, well-written jokes and lyrics (“And now it’s springtime for Hitler and Germany/Winter for Poland and France/We’re marching to a faster pace/Look out! Here comes the master race!”), and lots of action-based comedy. It was offensive at times, but hilariously so. And at three hours, you got more entertainment for your buck. So was it worth $100 per ticket?
By the conclusion of the show, it was rather late: 11 p.m., but my aunt and I went back to Times Square and visited a little while longer. Mind you, everything was still open. Even in Boston, things close at 11, but in New York, the stores were still bustling as busy as the daytime, and the streets were still crowded with visitors. There was just this wonderful atmosphere of aliveness. Also, the lights from the video screen and the huge advertisements made the place as bright as day. Yay for big cities! Today was one of the best days ever.
The next day, Sunday, my aunt and I went to a Dim Sum restaurant for lunch. Then, her friend drove us to Manhattan again, and the traffic was really bad, so by the time we got to the bus stop, it was time to go. But the rain and heavy fog that had plagued us the whole weekend finally cleared up the hour I left, so I finally got to see the Empire State Building, now the tallest building in New York City, as well as the Chrysler Building and the beautiful skyline of Manhattan. The bus also passed by the park that was formerly the site of the World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York in 1964-5. I could see the giant globe and the huge towers (I believe they are featured in the first Men In Black movie). Anyways, the significance of the 1964-5 World’s Fair is that Walt Disney created four attractions for it, and they all made their way to Disneyland after the fair. The attractions were Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Primeval World (the dinosaurs you see on the Disneyland train), the Carousel of Progress (now at Walt Disney World), and “it’s a small world,” and they are among the most famous attractions at the theme parks. Again, I slept for most of the bus ride. I didn’t get back into Boston until about 6:30 p.m., but I got back to school at 7, just in time for my math section. It was a great weekend; now I just have to catch up on all the work I was supposed to do this weekend!
Everyone go visit New York! (and stop by Boston to visit me!)
:: SL 7:35 PM [+] ::