New York City - Alicia's Off Broadway Play

Sept 2016


We headed down to NYC to visit Noah and Alicia, primarily to see Alicia's off Broadway play, but also because Dave hadn't seen Noah and Alicia's New York University digs yet.  We drove down through what Google Maps called "the usual traffic," which wasn't bad until we hit the city.  At which point "the usual traffic" looked like a good reason to walk.  It would have been faster.  Hopping on one leg.  Backwards. 

Along the way we passed the Intrepid, a de-commissioned aircraft carrier open to the public for tours, which was vaguely interesting.  Standing outside it was a large billboard talking about the newly added Star Trek exhibition, which was very interesting.  Turned out they have a mock up of the bridge from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" along with a bunch of interactive displays that allow you to "graduate" from star fleet, then go back in time and visit the namesake for the Starship Intrepid... which, of course, is the aircraft carrier.  The best part... "dressing in star fleet uniforms is encouraged.  The tour is in English but Klingon translators are on hand if needed." 

Eventually we made it to our little boutique hotel that was nicely decorated but consisted of a tiny room with a marble but marginal shower, and was much more expensive than the gigantic suite we had in Denver.  But that's NYC for you.

NYC is fascinating because there's just a vibe, an energy to it that is hard to match anywhere else.  There's the cross-cultural influences that seem like LA, mixed in with old brick and mortar neighborhoods that seem like Boston, an insane number of restaurants (it may be against city ordinances to use a kitchen in NY for anything other then coffee and bagels), and an around the clock hustle and bustle that never lets up.  There's the subway system, a bunch of little interconnected underground cities with an internal logic all their own and a serious ventilation problem.  There's Time Square and the financial district and parks that are always full of about as varied a group of people as you are ever likely to come across. 

Noah and Alicia's apartment was small (ok, munchkin-scaled) but comfortable, mostly below street level, with a kitchen the size of our refrigerator in Acton.  It's just down the street from Washington Square Park with the iconic Washington Square Arch. Not far away is a coffee / board gaming shop / meeting place where you can rent and play games for $5 an hour, which Dave considered clutch.  About a block away were the first set of distributed buildings, including the law school, that made up NYU, which Alison considered clutch.  And it is NYU graduate student housing, and therefore affordable (for NYC) which we both considered clutch.

Alicia's play was at a small venue in Times Square.  It was one of three plays and ran ten or fifteen minutes.  She'd hooked into the NY play scene and attracted a number of very talented actors and they did a great job of bringing Alicia's vision to life.  We won't do any spoilers because it looks like it may end up playing at other locations and we don't want to spoil the surprise.  Below, a shot of the people involved in the three plays after the show ended (Alicia and Noah are in the background, Alison doing her best "Blue Steel" pose), and Time Square once we left the building at about 11 pm, crazy busy.  It might as well have been the middle of the day - NYC truly remains the city the never sleeps.

We took the opportunity to take the subway and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was awesome, and leads (naturally) to a story about why NYC needs to install air conditioning in the subways.  It was hot in New York when we visited, with 230% humidity.  They literally had a general heat advisory in effect and upted the ante with warning signs EVERYWHERE about the possibility of heat stroke if you entered the labyrinth of interconnecting subway stops.  Turns out those NY subway trains generate waste heat like a dying sun and when you add thousands of people, 230% humidity, and an assumption that natural circulation is better because it's, well, natural, you have a fairly decent rendition of HELL ON EARTH.  It was over a hundred degrees on the platforms.  It was so hot people started sweating before they entered the underground because if you didn't get your body temperature down you couldn't make the ten minute wait for a train without ending up steam baked like cafeteria mac and cheese (the trains, thanks be to our great God(s), were air conditioned, pumping all their waste heat out to... oh, wait, yeah, right into the subway tunnels). 

But the Met was worth it.  The place consumes an entire, large city block, and you could spend a week there 24/7 and still not see everything. 

Dave loved the area devoted to old armor (medieval and oriental), swords, and guns.  The guns ranged from classic matchlocks, back when each weapon was hand-crafted individually with an incredible amount of detail carved into the stock and guard, to more modern handguns, up through the end of the 18th and early 19th century. The armor put the display at the Worchester Art Museum  we'd seen a few months earlier to shame - they even have two sets of armor reputed to have belonged to Henry the VIII in both his young and later rotund states (very rotund, judging by said armor). 

The section on oriental art was stunning as well.  With more than 35,000 objects, ranging in date from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 21st century it is one of the largest and is the most comprehensive in the West.  Wealthy collectors Florence and Herbert Irving managed to bring back an incredible amount of antique art from a variety of locations in Asia.  And then there was Astor Court, modeled after a courtyard in a 17th-century domestic residence in Suzhou, a city famous for its gardens, occupying an entire room with a glass ceiling to make it feel authentic.

Above:  This was technically not part of the Asian exhibit, but you could see it from there, a room that looked like it was being converted to represent ancient Egypt.  Below: 13th- and 14th-century narrative paintings known as emaki and a collection of folding screens dating from the 15th through the 18th century were on display, along with tastefully displayed Buddhist sculptures, and Alison's favorite, a taxidermy deer carcass that had been encased in crystal balls from the size of marbles to the size of bowling balls. 

We also experienced that lovely combination of fascinated + repelled at this baby:

It wasn't just the art that made the place amazing.  The architecture of the place was astounding, with parts that looked like they belong in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to modern glass and steel sun rooms to entire facades that looked like something from turn of the century London but were all inside. 

And then there were the two dozen or so rooms that were reconstructed to reflect different eras and abodes, with little plaques explaining everything you were looking at... all lifted from the real locations and recreated floor board by floor board in separate rooms in the met.

Of course, a museum wouldn't be complete without a giant collection of one of kind Tiffany's.  And we don't mean the company that creates charm bracelets that you can buy for a hundred bucks from anyone else and then mark them up by five hundred for the name, we mean the original Tiffany studio that did unique and amazing pieces of art. And there were other unique creations from other artists, from non-traditional furniture to fireplaces that look like they came off a high budget fantasy film's set.


So the Met was cool, but not as cool as seeing Alicia and Noah both doing something they love.  And, since Alicia was the star of the weekend, we'll close out with a picture of her (that Dave didn't take, just something that looks cool and we think reflects her true spirit).