I heart New York
How do I love New York? Let me count the ways. I love the sea of yellow cabs, the smell of diesel, the sidewalks so crowded you can’t possibly walk. I love that you can hop on a subway train and pop back up out of the ground in 10 minutes in a whole new place. I love Little Italy and Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty.
Most of all, I love Broadway. I love that pre-theatre buzz when everyone in Times Square is rushing to a show. I love coming out of the theatre three hours later and it’s still artificially light and the streets are packed and everyone is clutching a Playbill and people are singing and dancing from whatever show they just saw. I love the Broadway high that lasts for days.
My family and I go to New York every chance we get. My daughters’ 16th birthdays? Took ‘em to New York. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Gotta see it in New York. Thirtieth anniversary? Darn good excuse to go to New York.
I think I’ve been to New York 16 times. It seems like more. I’ve seen almost 45 shows. I shudder to think how much money I’ve spent on theatre tickets. Especially now, when “premium” seats go for $250 and up.
We flew into Laguardia last Friday and immediately headed for Carnegie Deli, home of kosher sandwiches bigger than your head and $10 slices of cheesecake. I adore this place. The wait staff is rude as hell, and you sit at tables with strangers. All part of the appeal. I’ve never eaten anywhere else where the first thing they do is bring you bowls of pickles.
We did something on this trip we had never done – and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: We went to Coney Island. How fun is that?
I’ve always thought of Coney Island as being just an amusement park, but it’s a beach and a neighborhood, too. In fact, we went on Saturday and the amusement park paled in comparison to the crowd on the beach. New Yorkers take their kids and their coolers and their beach balls on the N train from Manhattan to the end of the line all the way out in Brooklyn. (Note to anyone who wants to visit: It takes about 50 minutes from 49th Street.)
Most important to me was riding the Cyclone, an old wooden roller coaster built in 1927. The Cyclone and Nathan’s original hotdog stand are THE Coney Island icons. I knew I wanted to ride the coaster, but I had no idea how much fun it would be. Katie and I squeezed into one car (clearly made for people who were smaller in 1927) and took the plunge…over and over. It’s a hell of a roller coaster! Dave and Lauren opted for the Wonder Wheel (even older!), a Ferris wheel that overlooks the whole area.
Food is also a highlight in Coney Island. It reminds me a lot of the Iowa State Fair. My stomach was queasy after the train ride and the Cyclone, so I opted for an Italian ice. But you can get hotdogs, Philly cheese steaks, cotton candy…you name it.
Dave and I walked out on to the fishing pier and photographed the swimmers while Katie and Lauren went to a flea market next to the subway station. We all got sunburned. It was awesome.
I really wanted tickets to “Book of Mormon,” but I refused to pay $400 for a seat, which is what those tickets are going for right now. It’s such a popular show I figure it’ll still be there next time I go, and the tickets will be affordable. Or, it’ll tour and I can catch it in Chicago or somewhere.
So instead, we got rock-star seating for “Catch Me if You Can” and had a fantastic time. I can be cranky when I don’t like a show (just ask my family)…and we had to schlep 10 blocks to the theatre in the pouring rain, so it was a good thing this musical was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I won’t bore you with a review, but the two stars (Aaron Tveit as Frank Abagnale, Jr. – the Leonardo DiCaprio movie role — and Norbert Leo Butz as Carl Hanratty – the Tom Hanks role) were nothing short of amazing. When Butz did his Tony Award-winning “Don’t Break the Rules” number – a James Cagney-esque song and dance — I knew I was in the presence of a true Broadway legend. It gave me chills. I could NOT stop smiling.
Next night (with fewer blocks to the theatre and no rain) we saw the infamous “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” because we figured it would NEVER tour (way too dangerous) and would be a show people would be talking about for years. Not in a good way, but still. I have to say I really liked the first act. The stagecraft was gorgeous and innovative – as you’d expect from fired-director Julie Taymor. I loved the costumes and choreography. It was a real eye-popper. The music (by U2’s Bono and The Edge) was great.
Unfortunately, there was a second act. Oh my gosh. What happened to the second act? Someone dropped the ball. The show, whose story was admittedly weak even in the first act, took a nose dive and offered neither compelling characters nor interesting special effects, but plenty of fakey chase scenes and stupid villains. It’s a real bummer when the MOST INTERESTING part of the show is when the Spider-Man character and the Green Goblin character got tangled up (or something) when they were soaring very close to our seats…well, whatever happened, they stopped the show and everyone cheered while the stage hands came out and rescued the characters from their high-wire snafu. I mean, what’s “Spider-Man” without a technical glitch?
The girls had never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, so we did that. Katie had never been to Little Italy, nor to the knock-off-purses-and-jewelry paradise that is Canal Street, so we did both. We got hot and tired and cranky, which always happens when my family travels together. We ate Ray’s Pizza. I went to FAO Schwarz. Dave and I ate breakfast at Zabar’s on the Upper West Side like real New Yorkers (they have the best rye bread on the planet). We shopped at Macy’s, ate bagels, bought black-and-white cookies, and had a crazy taxi driver. Why not? It’s New York.