The first time I went to New York I stayed almost two weeks. It was pricey and at odds with my standard rule of needing no more than three days to see a city. But in a moment of prescience I decided I needed almost 4 times longer in New York than anywhere else. In the end even that wasn’t enough.
This time I had only three days. Fuzzy confused days, where the daylight slipped away around 4:30pm, and my jet-lag befuddled brain cried out for sleep shortly thereafter. Cheap pizza slices for dinner. Pepperoni. Three Cheese. Real New York pizza with slices as big as your face.
Snatches of 3 or 4 hours rest would come in the night, interspersed with aching hours of blankness, awake but not really there. 3am hunger gnawing away at my insides. Waiting desperately at the window for the early light of dawn and the opening of the bagel stores like a junky needing his next fix.
In the morning: bagels and coffee. The lifeblood. More types of cream cheese than you could imagine. Decent espresso coffee a lot easier to come by than last time I was here. The body and blood of Christ – Amen: bagels and coffee.
The days were like old times. Long walks from the Upper West Side to Midtown and beyond in the chilly, winter air. It felt natural. I didn’t have to think too much about how to get around. Instinctively avoiding my instincts about which way to look when crossing the street.
We’d both been here before, so Emma and I tried to tie up loose ends; see things we hadn’t seen but always wanted to. The New York Public Library. Columbia University. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza (a strange omission from my previous Christmas experience in NY.) Whatever captured our eyes along the way.
The highlight came on the last night, when I saw my first Broadway show. Many considered it sacrilege that I didn’t see a show last time I was here, though I maintain it’s not the sort of thing one does alone. Anyway, Emma had been looking forward to taking me to one, and after careful deliberation she chose Nice Work If You Can Get It, starring Matthew Broderick.
It was brilliant.
Set in prohibition-era New York, and set to the tunes of George and Ira Gershwin, it’s a whimsical comedy that follows Jimmy (Broderick), a hapless wealthy playboy who, on the eve of his latest wedding, meets and falls for a streetwise bootlegger named Billie (Kelli O’Hara). What follows is a series of hilarious entanglements between the two leads, Jimmy’s new wife, the police, the vice squad, Billie’s bootlegging companions, a senator and perhaps most hilariously, the leader of the Society of Dry Women (played wonderfully by Judy Kaye).
There were so many things I liked about it. Broderick’s timing and delivery were hilarious, as was the dopey voice he created for the character. The female cast members had some incredibly powerful voices, and some of the dance routines were very amusing. The production values were impressive, and the speed and technology they use for scene changes is seamless. Most of all I enjoyed how the show was able to take classic Gershwin tunes and re-contextualise them in funny and creative ways.
I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance.
And that’s my latest New York trip in a nutshell.