Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 23/60: The High Line, MoMA

Monday, 10/1: New York City

After two long and intense days, we gave ourselves a late start today. We got up around 5 a.m., but we lolled around the room working with our writing and photos. Then I needed to make a run to a drug store.

The whole process of getting into Manhattan—shuttle to subway station, subway to Times Square, then catching a cab downtown—must have taken an hour, so it was about 1 p.m. by the time we got to Gansevoort Street, at the bottom of the High Line Park. As we disembarked, the driver, knowing we planned to walk through the park, said, "If you want to get lunch first, Pastis is just a few blocks down."

We had been thinking of having a perfunctory lunch before hitting the trail, but Pastis turned out to be an authentic Parisian bistro. Well, there was no smoking, so I suppose the ceiling was painted nicotine yellow instead of acquiring that hue naturally, but seriously, the menu, the seating, the service, and especially the food was FRENCH, praise the lord. I love French food. Yes, it was expensive. The special for the day, sole meuniere, was $42. We settled for the sea bass in a lobster sauce with nuggets of lobster over a bed of spinach for $26. For my taste, it doesn't get much better than this. Because of our impending walk, we stuck to ice tea.

Pastis Bistro
Dan's photo
So it was 2:30 by the time we got upstairs to the elevated bed of a disused railway, the High Line, which has been transformed into a park. What a brilliant move. You can walk about twenty blocks across town without traffic. Rangy wildflowers grow between the rails. Benches are strategically located for appreciating the fascinating views. There are vendors of popsicles and such in a few places, but it is not cluttered up with commerce, or beggars. It took us about 45 minutes to walk the length, with photo stops. Oh yes, the weather was perfect—sunny, breezy, about 72 degrees.

View from the High Line Park
Dan's photo
Maximum foliage on the High Line Park
Dan's Photo
Soon after we descended to street level we were able to hail a taxi, and we were at the Museum of Modern Art by 3:35. Dan charged straight up to the fifth floor and started snapping, but I required an infusion of caffeine and sugar before I could go on so I spent about 45 precious minutes getting an iced latte and chocolate cookie from their cafe. Once I got up to the fifth floor, where the classics of modernism are exhibited, I quickly found Dan. We had about an hour and a half before the museum closed. We agreed to meet in the gift shop, which stays open a little later.

It would have been a travesty to spend such a short time at one of the country's great museums, except that we have toured it at least four times over the years. The thing that surprised me was how well some of the paintings at MoMA hold up over time. Dan concentrated on documenting some of the most famous images in modern art. I'll present a selection with just one for each painter, but for major artists like van Gogh and Picasso, the museum has several famous works for each.  I got more interested in some works that I hadn't seen before; I'll mix a few of those in, too.

The Bather, c. 1885
by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906)
 Jan's photo

The Starry Night, 1889
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
Dan's photo
The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897
Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910)
Dan's photo
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Dan's photo
Dance I, 1909
Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)
Dan's photo
I and the Village, 1911
Marc Chagall (French, born Belarus, 1887-1985)
Dan's photo
Dynamism of a Soccer Player, 1913
Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)
Dan's photo
Three Women,  1922
Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955)
Dan's photo
Figure, 1921
Varvara Stepanova (Russian, 1894-1958)
Jan's photo
Dr. Mayer-Hermann, 1926
Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Dan's photo
Kenneth Fearing, 1935
Alice Neel (American, 1900-1984)
Jan's photo
Flag, 1954-55
Jasper Johns (American, born 1930)
Dan's photo
Wood, Wind, No Tuba, 1980
 Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992)
Dan's photo

Dan and I found each other when the guards were funneling the crowd out through the doors of the gift store. Then we were standing there on Fifth Avenue parched, wobbly, and overwhelmed. Fifth Avenue  is too ritzy to have cozy little bars and restaurants, so when we came to the Peninsula Hotel, I made a snap decision and marched Dan through the grand lobby and into the luxurious bar. We both had Stella Artois on tap. Dan winced at paying $13 for a beer; I enjoyed the conspicuously tasteful decor and the suave service. A few men in suits were chatting at tables far from us, and the sound system played quietly. We let our minds idle for awhile. Then we used the fancy restrooms. In front of the hotel, the bellman efficiently hailed a cab, and we headed back to our hotel in Queens.

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