Manhattan: Necessary, But Only In Small Bites

By

Leonard Zwelling

I was raised on the south shore of Long Island, the fish-shaped appendage that drapes east of Manhattan. It contains some real New York City (Brooklyn and Queens) and some OyLand as in Lawng Oyland (Nassau and Suffolk Counties). I lived in Nassau but frequented Manhattan once I was old enough to take the Long Island Rail Road into “The City” and the subway all around it. That’s when I fell in love with Broadway and why I must go every year—for four days.

That’s about all of New York City I can handle any more. I am a Houstonian now. I like my car and my air conditioning and the friendly folks in Texas. I like playing golf twelve months a year and I don’t miss the traffic of Manhattan let alone the Long Island Expressway, the world’s biggest parking lot.

But at least once a year, if not twice, I fly to Manhattan (Queens, really; that’s where LaGuardia Airport is) and take a cab into “The City.”

October 10 was my day this year.

Upon landing at LGA, we were privileged to stand “on-line” among all the tourists waiting for cabs into The City. It took about 15 minutes. Not bad for waiting “on-line” in New York. (New Yorkers don’t wait in line.)

We dropped the bags in the room and headed for Lincoln Center on foot where we saw a new play called Junk about junk bond trading and illegal financing in 1985. It will open as a Broadway show soon. It was terrific. The staging, acting, writing, lighting and directing, as always, was top drawer. In New York, there may be a shortage of quiet, but there is no shortage of talent.

The next day we visited the 9/11 Museum as I wrote about in the past blog. Not to be missed, but it will rip your heart out and make you angry at the ineptitude of the government in its efforts to keep us safe. It’s still doing a poor job as Las Vegas has demonstrated. Mandatory lunch at Katz’s Deli on Ludlow and Houston (pronounced How-ston) and touring of the stores in the area came after. This included a vegan ice cream parlor with flavors to die for that did not take cash. Credit cards only.

On Wednesday evening, we saw the Tony-award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen and while the performances were indeed Tony worthy, the play about a troubled and awkward teen whose speech about a classmate goes viral, lacked the emotional punch I expected of such a highly touted play.

Thursday we walked as we had on Wednesday. Central Park, Madison Avenue, 5th Avenue, and all around the town. We were sent to an upscale Italian restaurant by a close friend called Gattoppardo. It looked like a Hollywood version of a scene involving the three-martini lunch crowd. The food was, indeed, fabulous, and the crowd seemed filled with movers and shakers as the room was tight and lined with hard wood and seemed to move and shake by about 1 PM.

Thursday evening was the surprise. We saw the loser of the Tony Award for Best Musical called Come From Away. It is about what happened in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 when 38 airplanes were diverted from their destinations in America to this lonely outpost in Canada where they were stranded along with their 7000 passengers for three days. It was an uplifting reminder of what we had seen at the 9/11 Museum. I highly recommend seeing it after you visit Ground Zero. Humbling.

Friday we had lunch with my co-author Marianne and trolled around the West Village (Katz’s is on the Lower East Side). We rolled the dice again on Broadway seeing a musical that has yet to open called The Band’s Visit. It is based on a movie about an Egyptian police band invited to play in Israel that winds up for an evening in the wrong town in Israel. Terrific. I suspect it will contend for the Tony next year.

But I’m done. The noise and the traffic and the people and the lines have overwhelmed me once again.

I will say again what I have said so many times before: “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

I do love New York and the jolt of electricity it provides but four days is my limit.

Heading back to Texas—as fast as I can.

Leonard Zwelling