Saturday, November 6, 2010

NYC, November 2010, Day 6

One of the brilliant things that Barbie does when planning travel is booking afternoon flights.  Nothing beats being able to take your time on your last day in a city, especially because it means having no stress about getting to the airport.

And with that, today we shall meet Denise for a late breakfast, go for a walk down Fifth Avenue to Central Park, and then head over to JFK.  Piece of cake.

One last view out the hotel room window.  Can you beat a blue, Autumn sky?
A NYC Diner Breakfast.  I would be lying if I said that this was very good.  It was a little awful.  (In fact, Barbie just whipped up some pancakes at home eleven days later that were around a jillion times tastier than the above pancakes.  But hey, this diner was just two blocks from the hotel.)
Imagine me, your humble Colossal Waste photographer, stopping in the middle of the crosswalk to take this picture while my wife and Denise keep walking.  Yes, I felt like a dork, and it was well worth it.  If you open this in a new window, you will see the Chrysler Building.
Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York, USA.
Fifth Avenue Candid, Blacked & Whited for those who, like me, feel that sometimes you can see more without color.
St. Patrick's Cathedral, better known as, "Barbie's favorite church in Manhattan."
Autumn leaves in Central Park.
This is actually one of those vertical panoramas.  I wanted you to see the buildings reflected in the lake as well as above the tree line.
Central Park's Wollman Rink.  You know, during election season and such, it seems like there is often a spotlight shined on perceived differences between people in the city and people in country.  Specifically, I can recall an interview with a gentleman in Alaska where he said that New York was an awful place filled with people who do not appreciate America and the outdoors.  The worst thing about this is that you know the man got his opinion not from a visit but from the media.  Because if he visited Central Park, I believe his impression of New York would drastically change.
Back at the Andaz, I thought I finally get a daytime shot of the Empire State building.
On the way to JFK, escaping Manhattan via tunnel.
That is not our plane to Los Angeles.
This is our plane to Los Angeles.
You know that I love empty airport terminal pictures.
There is one word to describe this gentleman, "Dapper."  He could barely walk, and is at the age where his body is working against him.  But in repose, he can let his dapper self shine.
The light columns of Los Angeles International Airport.  I think that I enjoy seeing the taxi meter as much as the light columns.  It feels good to be home.

Until the next trip, I bid you adieu.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NYC, November 2010, Day 5

Today is our last full day in New York, and our day is predictably designed around meals with friends.  For lunch we head to SoHo for Batlhazar with Peter, and for dinner we head to the Upper East Side for sushi with Mez.  Toss in Barbie's appointment at the new Trump SoHo, and the day's agenda is set.
NYC Subway Candid.  November 2010.

One thing about walking along Spring Street in SoHo, you know that you are going to make a pilgimage to the Holy Site of Chocolate, Vosges.
I would not be exaggerating to say that Vosges puts all other chocolate shops to shame.
Barbie browses in Vosges.  After five years of wondering, I bothered to look up the origins of this store's name.  It turns out that in France, the Vosges region contains Joan of Arc's hometown.  I know this is a stretch, but let us just go with the idea that Katrina Markoff, the owner/chocolatier from Chicago who at one point studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, felt that Joan of Arc's story was particularly chocolaty.
This is a revelation.  The Mo's Bacon Bar (dark chocolate edition) is basically my favorite chocolate bar in the world, and now they have combined this concept with pancake batter?  
SoHo Tokidoki Candid, November 2010.  I guarantee that I have friends who are more interested in tokidoki than in Vosges.   And tokidoki might be the most fun word to say in the world.  Say it out loud right now, and you will know this is true.
There are moments in urban America when you see just so many signs at once, you would be a fool to ignore them.  That said, God's Love We Deliver is so grammatically ridiculous, so easily twisted into different meanings, that I feel comfortable absolutely claiming that this is found art.
The Trump SoHo.   This picture is not in black and white.
A view in the living room of one of the Trump SoHo's two bedroom suites.  In color, the pool balls jumped out too much, which necessitated a conversion to black and white.  Needless to say, this suite is swanky as all get out.
The view of New Jersey from a Trump SoHo suite.
The view of the Lower East Side from the same suite.

After checking out several suites at the Trump SoHo, it was time to head over to Balthazar.
Balthazar NYC Candid, November 2010.
The Onion Soup Gratinee at Balthazar, New York.  This soup has been my favorite onion soup on the planet for quite some time.  I am not sure why, but this visit, it did not blow me away like it has in the past.  Tragic, I know.  The curse of high expectations.

After a great visit with Peter, it was time to head back to the Andaz.
Across the street from the Andaz sits the New York Public Library.  We thought that we should check it out, as long as we are here.
Our room is right THERE.  Just in case the dark finger in the foreground pointing out our room is too difficult to spot, I added some visual aids.

We did not know it, but the New York Public Library currently has an exhibition titled, Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.  They did not allow photography inside, which means that you do not get to see any of it here.  It was a very thoughtful and somewhat provocative look at the similarities and differences of the three Abrahamic religions.  Considering we began this trip with an unplanned visit to the site of the Islamic Cultural Center which became the focus of controversy for a few news cycles, it was certainly appropriate that at the end of this trip we made an unplanned visit to an exhibition focused on interfaith education.  
You might look at this picture and think that I wanted to show you the beautiful interior of the New York Public Library.  Or you might look to the far left and think that this is a picture of a picture being taken.  You might even think that I took this picture as an homage to Sex And The City 2.  It is all these things, and more.  Look closer, up on the stairs.
In fact, this is a picture of my beautiful wife at the New York Public Library.
Self Portrait at the Andaz window.

After some work and such, it is time to head to the Upper East Side.
Grand Central.  Its forty four train platforms make it the largest train terminal in the world.  And consider this; this train station is in the center of Manhattan, with all the tracks running underground to get here.  In most other cities, the main terminal can be a beautiful building, but the tracks leading out of it make for one serious eyesore that stretches for a mile or so.   This beautiful building connects to some insanely complicated network of train tracks that feed into it like the roots of a tree.  I bet a 3D model of this complex would fascinate me for hours.
Just East of Grand Central sits the Chrysler Building.  What really makes me love this picture is the crosswalk signal to the far right.
We arrived at Sushi of Gari for dinner, and while we waited for our table I snapped this pic.  When pretty much every organization that rates food has given a restaurant a sticker or plaque, you are allowed to set your expectations high.
One of the better teacups you are going to ever find.

Moments after sitting down, Mez said that he likes to go with Chef's Choice here.  Since we are in his neighborhood, at the restaurant he selected, I think you would agree that it would be pretty stupid to not take that last step and let him order.

Now... since we went with Chef's Choice, this meant that instead of ordering off of the menu we were going to experience the waiter bringing plate after plate of food to our table and briefly telling us what we are about to eat.  And since I really was not going to type every dish name into my phone as I asked the waiter to repeat the name of each dish eleven times, you are going to have to settle for pictures with almost no description.

 (Foie Gras.)
The waiter brought food until we had to ask him to stop.  And even though we were full, we ordered dessert.
Banana Bread Pudding made with, get this, almond flour.

This was easily one of the best sushi meals we have ever had.  After a great meal and a great conversation with a great friend, it was time to call it a night.
I am not even sure I would call this graffiti.  I think the accurate term is commentary.  Yes, some New Yorker found himself in the subway, staring at this movie poster, and just had to express his or her feelings about Harrison Ford's career path.  Beautiful.
Back on Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building hides behind other towers.
The Empire State building's pinnacle is right THERE.

Tomorrow we fly back across the continent.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NYC, November 2010, Day 4

This morning was a little crazy.  After talking to Kelly until around 3 AM last night, this morning we awoke to the sound of hundreds of men shouting.  Specifically, a guy with a bullhorn shouting, "What do we want!"  To which a huge crowd responded, "Union!"  And then bullhorn guy would come back with, "When do we want it!"  And the crowd boomed, "Now!"  Imagine two hours of that, from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM.  I looked out the window and could not see them.  I have no idea if they were in front of a non-union theater on 42nd Street or not, but that is my own personal hunch.  Needless to say, as soon as it was over we both fell back to sleep.

By the way, it is raining in New York today.  No big deal.  We actually have no concrete plans until dinner.
The view out of the hotel window, rain clouds and all.  The building along the bottom of the frame is the New York Public Library.  Barbie informed me that this library was the setting for the incredible same-sex wedding that opened the latest Sex In The City movie.  I saw the movie, but could not have told you this fact without Barbie's help.
Our room at the Andaz is not huge, but the ceiling is wildly high, making it feel larger than it is. The way that this hotel room is long and narrow, it is being quite stubborn about allowing me to get a decent picture of it.  The above picture only catches half of the bedroom area, let alone the supercool design elements in the other parts of the room.

We went for a walk to get some lunch, and found ourselves ducking into an Irish pub.  Can you say Comfort Food?
I opted for the Open Faced Turkey.
Fish and Chips for Barbie.

After lunch, we walked over to 5th Avenue and got Barbie a new travel mouse at Best Buy.  Then I headed back to the room to get some work done while Barbie walked up a few blocks to her favorite NYC cathedral to light a candle... and to do a little shopping on her way back.
Andaz Hotel, 5th Avenue, Candid.  November 2010.

Barbie returned from her two churches, one Catholic and the other H&M, and soon enough it was time to head to dinner.  Barbie had selected a place near Union Square called...
The City Tavern.

If you ask me what it takes to keep a good travel journal -- and I know that nobody is ever going to ask me this and I therefore ask it of myself -- I would say the discipline to detach from and reattach to the world around you just long enough to capture it without losing an appreciation for where you are.  (I am going to just assume that nobody understood that on the first pass.  Way too Philosophy 101 for its own good.)

I say this because as I took the above picture while Barbie was greeting and hugging my very good friend Mez, who without complaint waited for me to finish taking this shot before saying hello.  Yes, I have become a man who delays greetings to take pictures for a blog.  For you.  For the Waste.

We hung out in the bar and had a nice, relatively perverse conversation while we waited for Denise and Kim to arrive.  Once they did, the five of us headed up to the dining room upstairs.  
Baked Figs wrapped in Prosciutto, with gorgonzola cheese and balsamic reduction.  Barbie ordered it, Mez ordered it, and I ordered it.   Not too photogenic, especially in this light, but considerably delicious.  You cannot have too much fig in your life.
Barbie's Baby Spinach Salad, featuring apples.   You cannot have too much apple in your life, either.
Denise got a shrimp cocktail.  Considering the glass, the menu should refer to it as a Shrimp Martini.  This would backfire, of course, because the words Shrimp Martini place the idea in your mind of a disgusting vodka cocktail that tastes like seafood.
Barbie got the Linguini with Manila Clams.
I got this pretty dang great Linguine Carbonara. 
This picture was taken and is included because Kim, who is tiny -- like, a teeny, tiny woman who eats like a bird -- got this serving of Chicken Parmesan that could have fed an entire family.
This picture is significantly funny, if you were there.  Someone at the table had consumed what you might refer to as more wine than they might have needed.  For some reason, said person pulled out his or her wallet and a tin of Altoids and basically dismembered these items on the table.  This is actually after much of it was put back together, but the mints are still scattered in that way that you could never, ever do on purpose.  And if this picture and description did not amuse you in the least, imagine the wallet's owner saying something like, "My wallet, you said my, I need a, my wallet, want a mint, and where is my, mint, here, good."

It was a very fun dinner.  We had an excellent conversation, particularly because many of us were enjoying the act of walking up to the line of good taste and then, well, doing something in very poor taste to the line that should only be done in the home or the occasional doctor's office.  As you know, I never curse on the Waste.

We split a cab with Mez to get back to the Andaz, and even made a plan with him for the next night.
The hotel room's view at night, including many of the same buildings that you saw in the first picture of the day.  Look at how drastically different the day and night pictures are.
The view to the Southwest.  That red light intrigues me.

Time for bed.