New York City circa 2023

December 7, 2023

New York City circa 2023


Mark Rubin

It started with a planned Saba (that’s me) visit to see my granddaughter in Rochester. Add to that dropping by DC to spend time with a lifelong friend and a chance to see relatives in Charlotte. The trip planning led me to believe I needed to squeeze in a couple of NYC days.

The early December trip got waylaid by Other Persons’ travel, my trial schedule, and life. Then, cases settled, LB checked museum exhibits, and … we just finished five delightful days in New York. (The main trip happens in January or February, and I might be greedy and slip into New York for a day or two.)

Travel was a breeze, but for a one hour delay due to a malfunction in Dallas. Easy flights home, though, and LaGuardia Airport shines. (A friend who whines about taxes constantly used to complain about USA infrastructure, relative to what he saw in Europe. When you spend money, you can have nice things, the LaGuardia money was “spent” decades ago, and planners and contractors used it well. The Port Authority kvells, rightfully, about Terminal B, where we happened to be.)

We stayed at Madison and 29th St. A perfect location for easy walking south and north, and subway access for rainy days and tired feet.

The NYC skyline looks very different now. The One World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower) has settled in, the Empire State Building shines brightly, and I ♥ the Chrysler Building. A gem, truly!!! Not at all, though, these skinny residential towers. I appreciate the need to squeeze a last few hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) out of a corner lot, but the lack of appreciation for the setting pains me. Effing NYC here! These towers look like what we might see in Hong Kong or Shanghai. Not here, not now!

Skinny buildings aside, we walked past a behemoth of a building site between Madison and Park, and 47-48th Streets. Used to be the Union Carbide Building, which was built in 1961 and gone in 2021. (Not a Not So Much building, by the way; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed and constructed it.) Obsolescence in my lifetime! The new building, built for JP Morgan|Chase, offers 60 stories but it will be 138 feet taller than the 102 story Empire State Building. One World Trade Center aside, a law like the DC ordinance which limits building height to less than the Washington Monument – sub ESB for WM – would serve Manhattan well.

Museums? We saw a great Manet/Degas show at the Met, which focused on the friendship/competition these men shared. (Manet died first, and when Degas died, his collection included 80 Manet paintings.) Another friendship exhibit offered up André Derain and Henri Matisse. Joyful and full of color.

The collections at the Met inspire me, but the number of people, not so much. Love seeing families with children suffering through forced exposure to art, though. It’ll serve them well!

We did MOMA on our last day! More great art! Monet’s Water Lilies – a roomful of large panels – might involve hours. (The smaller Agapanthus? Lovely as well.) The MOMA Design Shop offered fun stuff, too. I have a device, now, that looks like some sort of bird. Touch it somewhere and its beak picks up a toothpick.

Lots of walking, of course, and dogs waiting for us to say Hey. Here’s one we met on Monday afternoon:


Sadly, I did not get a picture of a dog we met on Saturday, returning from Central Park with a large toy it claimed and was taking home. Finders keepers!

The mood in America seems to suck right now if the blogs tell a true story. Not in the Big Apple! On Saturday LB and I got our signals crossed and I ended up at 5th Ave. and 57th St. for almost 45 minutes Phone dead. Still, I should have puzzled out what happened, but I was having too much fun watching and interacting with happy people.

More happy people in one place, I can’t recall. I took group photos for three or four sets of people. Watched pedi-carts full of smiling people constantly, with carols blasting. (Damn, but Mariah Carey has made inroads with All I Want for Christmas Is You.) Tons and tons of smiling faces!

Theater? LB and I don’t gravitate to Broadway. But Sunday was a rainy day. We saw a fine and moving production of Manahatta at the Public Theater in Greenwich Village. Great venue. Great staging and fine acting! (The play neatly juxtaposes the European genocide of the Native Peoples who populated the ground I am writing about and the collateralization of home mortgages 15-20 years ago. If you get the chance, see this play!*)

After Manahatta, we popped in to Fanelli’s and grabbed two bar seats. Great martinis and bar food, and I confess to a bit of a crush on Claire, who took care of us a few days ago and four years ago, 2X. Then, after resting a bit, we returned to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater for a great Christmas Show, featuring Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, Tim Davis, and the terrific Tony Guerrero Quintet. In between, we shopped at the Union Square Holiday Market. (On Friday, we shopped at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side. We did squeeze in a bit of Bloomingdale’s and other more traditional venues, but the pop-ups offer more fun stuff!)

For food, Turnmill was meh, but it served us at 11:45 on Thursday evening, and the tots tasted great. Next up? Dame, for which I camped on-line to get a rez. Dame offered outstanding food. The fish and chips deserves its accolades in spades, but we loved the rest of the meal as well, together with the drinks, the ambiance, and the service.)

Saturday, we ate Indian food at Dhaba. Another great meal! Sunday, as noted, we enjoyed Fanelli’s and Joe’s Pub.

Last up? The Grand Central Oyster Bar. Counter seats. Chat with neighbors. Good martinis, not quite cold enough. Great raw oysters and better ones, fried. Mussels? Meh. Spinach? Tasty. Fries? Very fine.

Thanks to our staff for being present so we don’t have to be. To Leisa and Charlotte, our old and new dog sitters, for looking after our loved ones. Be well, all!!!


*Imagine one actor inhabiting Peter Minuit and Dick Fuld, the last Lehman Bros. CEO., back and forth for 100 minutes.

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