Sunday, October 23, 2011

Whirlwind Week-end in New York, Part 2

Here are some crazy NYC statistics.  In 2010, 48.8 million people visited New York, spending  $31.5 billion.  Each NYC household benefits approximately $1200 in tax savings as a result of the City's travel and tourism income.  There are 40,000 location shoots for TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. in the City every year.  And there are over 23,000 active restaurants in the City, offering any type of cuisine that you can possibly think of.    My criteria for dinner with longtime friends Suzanne and Chris was simple--a place where we would be able to hear each other so that we could actually catch up rather than just enjoy the food and the scene.  Despite the mindboggling number of restaurants to choose from, this is a harder task than you might expect, and Suzanne called me at 6:15 (just as I was getting up from my power nap) to say we had a reservation at JoJo for 7:00.  Forty-five minutes to pull myself together for dinner at a chic French restaurant and get uptown--no problem! 

Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the premiere chefs/restaraunteurs in New York, and JoJo was his first restaurant.  Don't think, though, that he's let his attention wander away from this gem.  Suzanne, Chris and I had a fabulous meal that featured butternut squash soup, peeky toe crab, rack of lamb, and an incredible Passionfruit Pavlova.  When you cracked open the meringue, you discovered passionfruit sorbet--it was kind of like a ship in a bottle thing!  As wonderful as the food was, the company of these longtime friends was even better.   Physically and emotionally sated, I headed back to Wendi and Lee's to rest up for Sunday's activities.  (As an aside, Wendi and Lee were off at a truffle dinner at the James Beard House that sounded incredibly decadent.  They even came away with a truffle-themed goodie bag that included truffle oil and a truffle lotion--watch out for those pigs when you wear that!) 

Subway Entertainment
Sunday's schedule was just as busy as Saturday's had been.  I met TJ around 11:00 after having the RA roust him from bed as I waited in the lobby of his dorm being a psycho aunt worrying that he was dead on the street somewhere instead of just sleeping through my multitude of wake up calls.  Our goal was to outfit him for the shock to his sytem that winter will be.  Three hours and two subway rides later (one of which featured music by this accordionist) we found ourselves back in the dining hall with packages containing winter boots, a winter coat, sweaters and jeans.  Having accomplished my pseudo-parental responsibilities for the week-end, I headed to the Lucille Lortel Theater to meet Wendi.

Our theater selection was The Submission.   The premise was quite interesting:  a gay white man had written a play about a single alcoholic African-American mother struggling to raise her kids and had submitted it under a nom de plume that suggested that the author was someone who might have had some firsthand experience with the subject.  When his play is selected to be put on at a theater festival, he hires an actress to play the role of the playwright.  Not surprisingly, things become complicated as the actual playwright struggles to stay involved behind the scenes and the actress begins to feel a deep connection to the play and to enjoy the spotlight as the "author" of the work.

The play made us consider how the identity of the creator of a creative work (be it literature, music or art) informs the viewer's reaction to that work.  Wendi pointed out that adopting a pen name is a well-established tradition--take, for instance, the English author Mary Ann Evans who published her 19th century works under the name of George Eliot in order to ensure that they would be taken seriouslyIn The Submission, layering on the issue of race makes this subterfuge politically charged.   The playwright argues that, as a gay man, he has experienced discimination similar to that of the female character in his play and is thus able to understand this aspect of her plight.  The actress who has assumed the identity of playwright begs to differ with this assertion in very strong terms.  Obviously, there's no answer--easy or otherwise--to this dispute but it did make for an interesting afternoon of theater. 

Wendi with new friend on
the streets of NY
Dinner that evening was at a local Indian restaurant and it was yummy.  I always love the papadam with chutney, and the chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma satisfied my craving for some authentic ethnic food that I can't get in Punta Gorda. 

As I rode in my Dial Car back to La Guardia the next morning, it reminded me of my lawyer days when a car service took me home after a late night at work.  The friends I saw over the week-end are from that era of my life, and it's always wonderful to spend time in the City with them.  I'm looking forward to introducing them to my life in Punta Gorda (which keeps me almost as busy as I was during my week-end in New York!)   Changes in latitudes and attitudes--yes, but changes in my friendships--never.   

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