In most of my travels, I don’t think I’ve stayed longer than three or four nights in one place. And that has always suited me well. Three nights has sometimes left me wishing for one more, but I remember feeling, after four nights in Stockholm in 2012, that I was ready to move on, even though I loved Stockholm and didn’t see everything I would have liked to see.
Continue reading “A Week in New York: Day 6”

Today was a two-show day, and it was on-and-off drizzly all day, so I took it easy in the morning and just took a short walk from the hotel to Union Square, where the Christmas Market is underway. I enjoyed browsing through the kiosks. Then I walked up to Port Authority and met mom, and we saw Dames at Sea. It’s a shame the show didn’t get better reviews and is closing next month; it’s really a lot of fun. No, it’s not brilliant or original or contemporary, but it was never supposed to be. It was written to be a send-up of the big all-singing-all-dancing spectacle musicals of the 1930s, and it succeeded perfectly in evoking that spirit. We smiled through the entire thing.
Continue reading “A Week in New York: Day 4”

A few observations about New York after my first full day:

  • The city is more user-friendly than it used to be. Subways have live infographics displaying upcoming stops and showing how long your ride will be. They also have instructions on how to be a courteous subway rider: my favorite is “Don’t be a pole hog” (it shows a picture of someone wrapped somewhat amorously around a pole). There are maps around town showing points of interest. There are lots of clearly marked bike lanes. Even the taxis look newer and shinier than they ever used to.
  • Both drivers and pedestrians are as aggressive as ever. People do not wait for a walk sign. Cars don’t yield to pedestrians.
  • You can’t walk fast very effectively in many neighborhoods. Pedestrian traffic jams are as common as vehicle traffic jams.
  • There are a surprising number of cash-only establishments.
  • There are many 24-hour establishments, including groceries, drug stores, bars, and restaurants.
  • Even on a Monday night at midnight, jazz clubs and piano bars in the West Village are jam packed.
  • The city feels safer than it used to. Lots of regular-looking people, including single women, are walking around or riding the subway at night. There is a ubiquitous security presence; barriers preventing vehicles from entering a lot of streets (especially around the financial district) and security guards with canine units. Seems like there are a lot more police on foot patrol as well.

Continue reading “A Week in New York: Day 2”

I have arrived in the greatest city in the world, and I’m not leaving for a week!

Even though I grew up on Long Island and lived for four years in the Bronx while I was teaching in New Rochelle, just north of the city, I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve spent the night in Manhattan. So this is a real thrill for me. I am still not sure how I will spend my days this week, though I do have a list of places to go and things to see. And I will have the opportunity to catch up with some old friends. Evenings (and Wednesday daytime) are devoted to theatre.
Continue reading “A Week in New York: Day 1”

I should first make clear that New York, or more specifically Manhattan, is “The City.” This is not a statement of arrogance or superiority. It is simply tradition. I grew up in one of the communities that sprang up on Long Island in the first decade after the end of World War II. My parents, like virtually all my friends’ parents and probably all the buyers of the affordable new houses that offered young families their small but tangible piece of the American dream, grew up in apartments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Queens. Technically, they were already in New York City, but for them, going to The City was going to Manhattan. My generation inherited this nomenclature. We went to visit my grandparents in the Bronx, but we went to a show in The City.

(Interestingly, my sister and her husband came to visit me in Seattle a few years back, and they remarked that where I live, a residential neighborhood of single-family homes, isn’t really “The City.” So perhaps “The City” has a broader meaning for New Yorkers?) Continue reading “Where do you stay in The City?”

When you grow up gay in the suburbs of New York, you develop certain affinities. Like, for instance, the Broadway musical.

(I don’t mean to perpetuate any stereotypes. I actually know plenty of people who like musicals who aren’t from New York. And some of them are straight.)

I saw my first Broadway show in the summer of 1969. I was 13 years old. Even before the curtain went up, I knew there was nothing as thrilling as seeing a big live musical theatre production, sitting in the middle of the front row of the mezzanine. (“Mezzanine” is a word that doesn’t come up often outside of live theatre. It’s a pretty word.) Continue reading “I’m Just a Broadway Baby”