The Big Apple.
They’ve braved alien attacks. See: Battle of New York in The Avengers (2012) and Independence Day (1996).
They’ve survived animal onslaughts- King Kong (2005), Sharknado 2 (2014), and Madagascar (2005),
They even faced the apocalypse- The Day After Tomorrow (2004).
If memory serves right, they also braced a food storm once, when a giant bagel barrelled right through an office skyscraper- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).
Tendency for fatal destruction notwithstanding, New York City is equal parts romantic and lunatic and exuberant. It is only in this wildly sexy city do you see cuddling man and woman, kissing man and man, flirting woman and woman; closely proximate to the madman preaching on mankind’s inevitable doom.
But nobody even blinks.
There is mad liberation yet a tinge of reservation. Or maybe crazy reservation, for New York is a city where everybody owns a PhD in not giving a damn.
Also hedonism. Because Americans are obsessed with the pursuit happiness.
In the spirit of sensualism, Broady and I watched the sun set from the dock between Pier 40 and Pier 45. And kissed under the vivid screens of Times Square on 42nd Street. Then, we hold hands on the C train hurling through midtown Manhattan. The air is cool, yet electrifying. Rousing even. Fault us not, it is after all our long due honeymoon.
A real plus point of New York City is it’s pretty easy to navigate, thank you grid system. Streets increase numerically. If you’re on 55th Street now, the next street is 56th. Easy, huh?
The subway, on the other hand, require some brain gymnastics. The same track house different trains. These trains are identified alphabetically and travel to different destinations. Unlike many other subway systems, one can’t just hop on any train of the same track because they don’t all travel to the same place.
When in doubt, just google map. #justgoogle
Having said all that practical stuff, exploring New York is both exciting and stimulating. I felt like a kid with sensory overload. Rather than overload your senses too, I decided to break my gibberish down into several sections: buildings, broadway plays, museums, statues & monuments, and food.
Jeng, jeng, jeng.
In New York, there are many buildings. There are small buildings, averagely-sized buildings, and big buildings. But most notably, there are skyscrapers that reach into the sky like the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk. They pierce into the heavens so unashamedly that I have to crank my neck silly to spot the top.
Of all the superstructures in New York, one towers above her peers- not necessarily in dimensions, but- in reputation: the Empire State Building.
Empire State Building
The buildings in New York City aren’t just tall, they are also uniquely designed. The kind of unique that makes you wonder if the architect was crazy, or in love. Here, the romantic and the lunatic are split hairs.
One such building is the flatiron building, named for its uncanny resemblance to a clothes iron. Wrote a journalist of New York Times of the Flatiron Building in 1902, “The peculiar office structure appears to exercise a strange fascination over some minds, for not only do hundreds of people stand for five and then minutes at a time looking up at it, but many of those who have detached themselves from the groups are obliged to return in a minute or two to examine the structure from another point of view.”
Guess I wasn’t the only person to stare intently at her acute angles then.
Many days, we walked around the city just looking at buildings. Looking at buildings suddenly became entertaining. Here are a couple of pictures of buildings, check them out if you are as fascinated by buildings as I am. Also, I’ve just said “buildings” 4 times in the past 3 sentences.
Radio City Music Hall
Grand Central Terminal
The Financial District
Random Residential New York Building
Greenwich Village Houses
Upper East Side
World Trade Centre Transportation Hub
If buildings are imperative to the New York experience, so are broadway shows. NYC is home to 41 broadway theatres. It is safe to assume, like I did, that all the theatres are concentrated on Broadway Street, right?… Wrong. They are actually scattered all around the theatre district, from the 42nd Street up to the 65th.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
We knew ahead which play we needed to watch- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play is so long it’s broken down into two parts, each part approximately 2 and half hours long. I read the the screenplay to prep for the occasion. Although an amateur of the theatre, I was no fool. This play will not be easy to pull off. I had high expectations. I had expectations higher than the Empire State Building.
Yet, the play surpassed my expectations! It was that good. The effects, the lights, Ron’s ginger red hair- all so beguilingly exceptionally thrillingly impressive. Frankly, at some points, I was more intrigued by the effects than the actual performance.
It is the epitome of prized entertainment.
Because there was time to kill, we decided to watch Waitress the Musical.
Full disclosure: all I wanted was to see Jeremy Jordan live, and his presence will cover a multitude of shortcomings.
But there are shortcomings in this play, and I’m about to do a little nitpicking.
Note: Skip down to MUSEUMS below if you are not interested in my opinion of this play.
Waitress is based on the movie, Waitress. (Same name, what a coincidence!) The story is about a waitress named Jenna, who’s stuck in an abusive marriage. She accidentally gets pregnant (“when I get drunk, I do stupid things like sleep with my husband”), but keeps it a secret. It is around this time that she strikes up an affair with her gynaecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter (Jeremy Jordan).
Here goes: number one, I’m exhausted of the cliche boy falls for passive girly-girl narrative. Although writer Jessie Nelson tries to work in the feminism angle, the whole set up still feels rather… damsel in distress.
Waitress is like a Cinderella story remake, except with aprons and a growing embryo. Oh, look at me! So helpless! I get that it’s about feminine growth, but enough the covering woman already. Give me a fierce woman. Give me a woman who will unapologetically walk out on her abusive husband. Give me a woman who will grab her own destiny by the balls like a determined mother******.
The ending is empowering. But it’s too little, too late. Way too little, way too late.
Number two, she and the good doctor were both married during their affair. To other people. They committed adultery. Yet, the narrative just glazes over this fact like yesterday’s news cycle. I find this portrayal disturbing. According to an article in the LA Times, Nelson says that the affair is supposed to be an objective development, about the “humanity that affects us all.”
But humanity is not one-dimensional, sister. There must be consequences. Or do we resign to placid snippets of humanity? They just cheat and get away with it? It matters that they cheated.
But although I don’t love this particular production, I must say that Nelson has the right idea.
“I think the idea of a male and female sensibility is a myth. There are a lot of women I know who would love to make a superhero movie and would make a very good superhero movie,” Nelson said. “And there are a lot of men who could make a beautiful story that people would say is more ‘female’ in sensibility. It drives me bananas when people say a story has a male or female sensibility.”
Thank you, Jessie! You are one director I would love to hear from more.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
One of my favourite moments in New York is our visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Here, for the first time in my life, I shared solid ground with the legendary Concorde aircraft.
I also selfied with the space shuttle Enterprise.
The American Museum of Natural History
Our museum tour didn’t end with the Intrepid. The next day, we joined a long line at the ticketing counter of the American Museum of Natural History. Came our turn, a cheerful white girl asked simply, “recommended entrance fee is $23. How much would you like to pay?”
That means, how much extra we’ll like to gift, right? We hesitated a moment and replied, “$50 for two.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise, so I assumed she heard me wrong. “$25 each. Total of $50,” I repeated slowly because white people aren’t always receptive to the lustre of the Malaysian accent.
“You want to pay more?” her astonishment was evident.
This is when we learned that recommended doesn’t mean minimum. Recommended means recommended, and nobody pays more. People go as low as 2 cents. Instead, we stroll in, these two “crazy rich asians”, offering to pay more?
…Really, 2 cents??
Unless you’re Barry Allen, it’s impossible to finish the entire museum in a day. But Barry Allen can not get drunk, so it’s not great to be Barry Allen.
Given the enormity of the place, strategy is salient. Choose the exhibits that best interest you. My personal favourite is the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Disclaimer: this place is not for the young earth creationist.
The Fossil Halls, too, was rather beguiling (also not for the young earth creationist).
Also, the Human Origins and Cultural Hall is packed with engrossing information (most definitely not for the young earth creationist).
I really enjoyed those exhibits, but that’s just my 2 cents.
STATUES, MONUMENTS, AND OTHER RANDOM MAN-MADE STRUCTURES
Statue of Liberty (and Ellis Island)
The Charging Bull
Madison Square Park Statue
Central Park is Manhattan’s absolution from concrete plethora. It is home to a zoo, a castle, many lakes, many trees, and many homeless people (the number of homeless people in NYC was a point of desolation I had to come to terms with).
Sprawled across an area of 3.41km square, I now understand why Central Park is a New York must see. It offers a tang of serenity amidst the city that never sleeps, like mangosteen after durian.
It is also the wedding venue of Blair and Chuck in Gossip Girl. XOXO!
Washington Square Park
Okie, let’s talk food. I’m going to be upfront and admit one thing: I missed my rice (yes, I’m that asian). But when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So I tried, I really did try, to immerse myself in the culture of burgers, fries, pizzas, and more burgers.
Here are some food items I deem worth sharing:
Russ & Daughters (Bagel)
Minetta Tavern (Burger)
The Spotted Pig (Burger)
Shake Shack (Burger)
Roberta’s Pizza (Pizza, duh.)
Motorino Pizzeria (Pizza, too.)
Lapalapa Taco Bar (Taco)
Takumi Tako (Fusion Taco)
Magnolia Bakery (Cake and Pasties)
Papaya King (Hot Dog and Papaya Juice)
THE SUN SETS OVER THE CITY
Each day in New York left our feet sore and exhausted. According to my trusty Garmin wristwatch, we walked an average of 20k steps a day. When the night creeped in, we dragged our feet- in fatigue and reluctance- to retire at our tiny accommodation on 45th Street, where we anticipate another day of hedonistic pursuits.
Where we… liberate… six in the city.
Note: This wraps up leg one of our honeymoon. Next stop, Florida. This adventure is to be continued…