This year, it was New York and DC. I love the East coast, and it’s been a while, and the stars aligned to fit in several welcome opportunities:
To see family and friends
To travel on Amtrak
To see the cherry blossom in DC (slight fail on that one)
To hear Pink Martini at the Kennedy Center
To see the Gauguin exhibition at the National Gallery
I took the red-eye to New York, which wasn’t too painful. I would have got even more sleep had the cabin not been refrigerated. I asked the flight attendant for a blanket, and she told me that they are now charging $8 for blankets “so that you can have a clean one.” I told her I’d rather have a free dirty one, but they don’t seem to offer that option. I’m so tired of airlines telling us how they’ve come up with these new rules and charges just to give us joy and fill us with gratitude.
Once there, I got to see my cousin and her bloke and kid, and get the guided tour to Yonkers, where they live. We visited the Union Church, which has stained glass by Matisse and Chagall, because, as I have mentioned elsewhere, if your name is Rockefeller, you can say things like “You know what would really complement my Matisse window? Eight more Chagall windows,” and make it happen.
We also visited the ambitiously-named Philipse Manor, which was very interesting, if a little on the rustic side to qualify itself for our mental image of a manor. But it wasn’t a primary residence, after all, and at the time, it was probably considered quite luxe.
Lydia and I nearly disgraced ourselves by giggling hysterically at some of the cheesy items for sale in the gift shop, which proved that we haven’t matured since our teens, and at least shows that the ageing process hasn’t completely overtaken me. I managed to sober up just enough to buy a postcard with a hologram of a scary-looking sheep on the front, and even politely agreed with the clerk as she commented on how lovely it was and how amazing was the technology that created it.
We also drove through Sleepy Hollow, which I must admit surprised me a bit in that I thought it was an imaginary place prior to our visit.
The next day we went into Manhattan, visited the Whitney, made fun of some of the art, loved some of it, and got into trouble with museum guards for taking pictures (not OF paintings, I should mention, I don’t do that), which reminded my cousin and I of that time we got chased though a castle in Wales by the security guard, and again proved that la plus ca change, la plus c’est le meme chose.
We also window shopped, and I went to the Top of the Rock, and the view was truly phenomenal, even though I didn’t see Tina Fey anywhere, and we sight-saw, and ate, and it was all very New York and fun.
The next day was Amtrak from Penn Station to DC, so I got to fulfill an old goal of taking a train in the US. As we left New York, I was a little concerned that it would not be all that I dreamed of, as the tracks seemed to be routed through the ugliest areas possible--but eventually I got my green landscapes and trees, and cityscapes, and all was well. Except Baltimore. Maybe Baltimore has good points and charming vistas, but I did not see them from my train.
I arrived in DC, at the stunning Union Station, and all was sunshine and tulips. Though a bit thin on the ground as far as cherry blossom. I was staying with my friend Julia and her husband, and we lunched and caught up, and went to the National Portrait Gallery, which I highly recommend.
Friday night and Pink Martini were wonderful. I loved the Kennedy Center, and it’s in a beautiful setting. It was rather lovely to be able to wander outside and look over the Potomac in the early evening before the concert. Pink Martini always rocks the house, though I was a little disappointed at first to find that my beloved China Forbes, the usual lead singer, was under doctor’s orders not to sing, and was replaced by a woman rejoicing in the name of Storm Large. Which apparently is for reals, even though it sounds like the result of one of those Facebook posts that ask you to provide your cat’s name and first street you lived on and tell you that’s your porn star name.
Storm was a bit more Broadway and loud than China, but she did a good job, and you have to give props to the girl for learning all those songs in multiple languages, per PM’s signature multi-cultural style. But the real consolation prize was Ari Shapiro, who sang a few numbers, plus a duet, and was completely charming, delightful, and talented to a jealous-making degree.
Saturday it rained cats and dogs, which was fine, as we spent a good chunk of the day inside the National Gallery admiring Gauguins and tracking down the da Vincis, and sitting in restaurants. And there’s something quite fun about running around in rainstorms when you know you’re guaranteed a warm, dry bed at the end of the day. A rather special and unexpected sight was a formerly LDS, rather grand chapel in the middle of DC, among a group of very fine churches and other buildings. It’s a bit crumbly and not well-kept now, but I liked that the Mormons made our mark with some good architecture there a long time ago.
Sunday was another gorgeous day, and we headed to the National Cathedral for Palm Sunday Service. It was an Episcopalian service, which is close enough to Church of England for me to feel an affinity for it. It’s very different from LDS services, and although I’m quite happy with the way we run things, I also like the ritual and tradition there. There’s something rather solid and comforting about it, and I appreciate the perspective on Easter.National Cathedral
at the Whitney
Philipse Manor house