Thursday, June 23, 2005

It Followed Me Home

I'm reluctant to blog about NYC. Part of me is still subsisting on that euphoric fairytale and I'm disinclined to view it detachedly through the lens of memory. Plus I don't know where to start. I could post one detailed day at a time, or a vague synopsis of everything we saw and did. It was like seeing too much of Europe in a month when I was fifteen; no wonder my ten-year-old memories of that trip are hazy.

New York City was a week of contrasts, beginning with the farewell snow when our flight left Salt Lake City. When the automatic doors opened on the greasy New Jersey inferno I thought I was going to die. (I didn't even think about packing my inhaler, even though once upon a time I needed it to survive even the two days a week I used to spend in Los Angeles. So I spent the week trying in vain to take a full breath, but then, I wouldn't have had time even if I could. For the record, I am not the kind of asthmatic that wheezes due to exertion. It's only poor air quality that sets me off. An alfalfa fire in Hilliard or Bear River will keep me hacking for days. By-the-by, alfalfa smells suspiciously like pot when it burns.)

The next contrast was between the rowdy, stinking, fabulous street corner at 7th and 45th (yes, Times Square) and our beaUtiful, peaceful, air-conditioned room ten floors above. I am in some ways just a nobody from nowhere, but for seven days I felt like one of four princesses. I'm talking down comforters and satin-smooth cotton sheets and throw-the-wet-towels on the floor luxury. I have never before stayed in a hotel with a shower curtain liner that wasn't going solo. If I did, I didn't stay long enough to notice. Another notable thing about the Marriott Marquis is that it has what I'm convinced is the worst elevator system of any hotel in the world. For instance, you can't pick the floor you want to go to from inside an elevator. You have to enter it at a digital console outside the doors ( there are two such consoles for a dozen elevators) and it will tell you which unit is your best bet. This system may be bearable, if annoying, during non-peak traffic. At dinner and theater hours it's impossible. Occasionally a uniformed attendant can pull some strings for you and help you get where you need to be in less than half an hour, but mostly you're at the mercy of this inane design.

I'm going to hop off the contrast-themed tour bus and throw you a bone here, because I know you're dying to hear which shows we saw. We squeezed in seven in the five whole days we were there (not counting the half days coming and going), including two matinees, one of which we bought tickets for at the TKTS shack on the bustling median in Times Square. Such a novelty. Anyhow that was Fiddler on the Roof, with Harvey Fierstein as Tevye, and I know what you're thinking and I was thinking it, too, but we were so wrong and he was fantastic. The other matinee was Spamalot, which couldn't have been more hilarious. My face ached intensely for hours. Tim Curry was oddly stiff, like he had a back injury, or maybe his costume armor was restrictive... but then I got to thinking how old he must be by now (in contrast to the baby he was when he played Rooster in the film version of Annie, which Broadway Cast Recording was my first ever casette tape. Upon further inspection I find that Tim was born the same year as my mother. Don't take that 'old' word wrong, Mum), but it made no difference because he positively belted his tunes and smirked and showed off, and I still think he's one of the greatest things since sliced bread. David Hyde Pierce was excellent, too, as chicken-heart extraordinaire Sir Robin. Wicked absolutely blew me away, not so much even the music, which was great, but the astounding performances and the story itself. And isn't Rue McClanahan getting up there, too? She made a great Madame Morrible. I wasn't expecting much from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (trying to be all grown up and not amused by the kiddy stuff) and was once again bowled over. There was too much about it to love to recite right now, but if I were a baroness I tell you what, I'd have my own Childcatcher, too. It's not very often something lives up to the hype but The Lion King proved that it sometimes happens. So what if I could have recited the dialogue right along with, since it was grafted directly from the animated movie; it's an artistic visual feast that simply cannot be described. Brooklyn the Musical was saved by a marvelously crafty set and stellar performances but it wasn't the knockout the other shows were. (This may have been because we were seated in the front row that shouldn't be there, within inches of the speakers, and Angie and Rae Dell had to tear up a napkin from The View and stuff it into their ears. I have this creepy thing I can do, by what I suspect may be flexing something in my inner ear, that blocks out about 88% of noise around me with a pleasant rushing sound. I automatically employ it during live performances or whenever the Mormon missionaries come by, so I was okay. And nothing's too loud for Morgan. She was a teenager in the 80's.) Last but not least was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which was also hilarious but was performed without an intermission and wouldn't you know, that was the day we had Starbucks right before the show, so I may not have gotten 100% out of that one because I was concentrating on not actually physically laughing. Which may have been disturbing to the scribbling critic on my left, who was having trouble writing because she was physically laughing way too much. I didn't pick these shows, but I am hysterically open-minded regarding entertainment (I love Futurama) so there was simply no disappointment. I would like to go back and see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Glengarry Glenn Ross, and The Pillowman, and Wicked again, and La Cage Aux Follies, which was playing at our hotel. There just isn't time to do it all.

Standby and I'll tell you about all the sight-seeing, because we weren't in the theaters all the time. And maybe more pictures. Everybody likes those. Which reminds me: God bless you, Lenny, for updating your blog.

Sunday was my first Father's Day without a dad. My only regret is that we didn't get to see his reaction to our Manhattan adventure, which he wholeheartedly endorsed. But I see him when I look in the mirror, and I clearly remember the things about him I need from day to day. Had he still been here, I would have bought him a bag of pistachios and ink cartridges for his printer, and taken a few DVD's (The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, SIlver Streak, and Father Goose) up to LaBarge and spent the weekend reading Hot Rod Magazine and the Barrett-Jackson auction catalog to him. Since he isn't, I'm going to fix the vacuum leak in his '91 Cadillac De Ville, that sleek white beauty of a car, and put the 4.9L V8 to good use on I-15 South to Vegas sometime this August. I suppose it's genetic that I should love the car as much as he did.

While we're mourning a little, Grandma would have been 95 tomorrow, the 24th. And she would have hated that we were celebrating the fact; she was 39 and holding, after all. So I guess all's well that ends well. I miss her like crazy, too. She would have loved Manhattan; especially the nightlife. We found the manifest where her mother Jedert, sister Angela, and brother Andrew signed in at Ellis Island in 1907 (they had come from Slovenia), three years before she was born right here in Wyoming, in the same town I was born in when she (Grandma Molly) was 70 years old. It was awesome.

This is an insanely long post.

I have a tendency to turn up the radio when
You Can Call Me Al comes on.

I went to see
Mr. and Mrs. Smith yesterday at the Strand on Main. It was great. But there wasn't enough Vince Vaughn, and what there was was icky. There's never enough Vince Vaughn.

Honestly, the Cadillac really did follow me home. I think I'll keep it.


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