Saturday, May 25, 2019
Though we love Los Angeles, we happily acknowledge that NYC is the center of the known universe and so try to visit whenever we can. Two years ago we took a tour of Manhattan with the South Coast Rep theatrical group and had such a great time that we decided to do it again. We saw three plays—Tootsie, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Kiss Me Kate revival—danced the night away to the big band sounds of Vince Giordano’s Nighhawks at the Iguana Club, and strolled through Central Park as well as the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Other highlights of our week-long trip follow below.
Tootsie—so much fun!
Nighthawks—small dance floor, but we made do!
Central Park's Turtle Pond-->
Celebrating the art and architecture of medieval Europe, the Cloisters is located on Hudson River Valley parkland north of New York City. Originally assembled by an American sculptor, George Grey Barnard, the collection was eventually purchased by John D. Rockefeller and is now a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The building, which looks very much like a medieval monastery, was actually constructed in the 1930s using the walls, columns, altars, etc., of real European churches. As a result, the Cloisters provides a peaceful and rather historically-convincing sanctuary away from city life, well worth the long subway or bus ride outside NYC.
The cloisters, themselves, are four-sided architectural features that include a covered walkway surrounding an open courtyard or garden. Despite an unusually cold winter, the gardens were filled with flowers and other flourishing plants. A beautiful day to refresh one’s soul.
The central Cuxa Cloister
Smaller over-grown garden cloister
Langdon Chapel, constructed with 12th-century
limestone blocks and sculptures from a church in France
Lots of statues of the Virgin and baby Jesus
Eery half-statue of a religious leader
Baby Jesus with apple
World-famous 15th-century unicorn tapestry
donated by John D. Rockefeller
View of the Hudson River
Leaving the Cloisters-->
From the Cloisters, our tour guide took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in mid-town Manhattan. By chance, the Met was featuring "Play It Loud," an exhibit of some 130 roll 'n roll instruments, including guitars, drums, and pianos from performers like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Prince, Elvis, and Brice Springsteen. We spent so much time ogling the instruments that we pretty much missed the rest of the museum!
Saxophone of Louis Jordan, early
Buddy Holly's guitar
Ringo's "kit" and one of George Harrison's many guitars
John Lennon's Rickenbacker guitar
Originally painted in "fireglo sunburst,"
George Harrison changed the color of his
Rickenbacker to match John's
Eric Clapton's famous Stratocaster "Blackie"
Neil Young's Gibson Flying V guitar
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
And Prince again
Rick Nielsen's (Cheap Trick) custom five-neck guitar
Paul McCartney's Union Jack bass (r)
The Who's drums
Organ played by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs on "Wooly Bully"
Ray Manzerek's (The Doors) electric organ
John Sebastian's (Lovin' Spoonful) autoharp
Lady Gaga's piano
What we learned was that a woman, named Clara Driscoll, was actually the genius behind many, if not most, of Tiffany's most famous leaded glass lampshades. Furthermore, as head of the Women's Glass Cutting Department, Driscoll was awarded the same pay ($35 a week) as Tiffany's male designers—quite an accomplishment for a woman in the early 20th century.
We highly recommend seeing this exhibit the next time you're in NYC.
And this one, too!
Standing tall amid grey skies
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cried she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
What would have happened if my grandparents hadn't been allowed to immigrate to the U.S. nearly 100 years ago?
I grew more hopeful as we walked around the base of Lady Liberty. In her left arm is a tablet of law bearing the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, while the broken chains of tyranny lie at her feet. Perhaps even more meaningful is the torch of truth and justice, which many would say we need now more than ever. I smiled as people from literally all over the world laughed and snapped selfies in front of our most iconic symbol of democracy.
Next stop: Ellis Island.
Inside the museum: the original torch
Full-sized model of Liberty's face
Replica of the full-sized ear that the statue's sculptor,
Frederic Bartholdi, kept in his house (!)
after Lady Liberty left for the U.S.
Tim comparing shoe sizes with the Lady's full-size model foot
Trick of the camera: looking out at the statue
and flag from inside the museum
Ellis Island, where immigrants were received and processed until 1954
Artsy shot of the Ellis Island staircase
Registration Hall where immigrants' fates were decided:
allowed into the U.S. or sent back to homeland?