New York City Again

I virtually repeated my trip to New York City from last week. I really wanted to see the play The Humans by Stephen Karam so I tried to find another bus trip to New York City. Susquehanna Trailways’ tours to NYC are sold out for November and December so I tried Sherry Ault Tours, an independent bus trip organizer, and she had a cancellation for her NYC bus trip. Unfortunately the show I wanted to see was sold out for its matinee performance on November 7, 2015 so I had to go see another play. I plan to make yet another trip to New York City this month so that I can finally see the play, The Humans by Stephen Karam. What I will have to do is take a regular Susquehanna Trailways bus to New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal and then stay overnight for two nights. I have already booked everything for that trip. Depending upon how well it goes, that might prove to be a great option for getting into the city more often. But it will be more expensive that way.

Fortunately no trip to New York City is wasted, not when you’re researched the city as extensively as I have, so I was still able to pack a lot of activities into this trip. The bus left us off on 6th Avenue, the Avenue of the Americas, close to Radio City Music Hall. So the first thing I did was take some photos of the Museum of Modern Art entrance because I’ve never taken any photos of it. I didn’t actually want to visit MoMA because I’ve been there and done that. Then I located  The Netherlands Club of New York which is housed in the same building as Woman’s National Republican Club and took photos of the exterior. Let me explain. The Netherlands has very little cultural presence in New York City. But they do have this private club to promote Dutch culture. I need a decent photo of the Woman’s National Republican Club for my notes. This may seem like a waste of time but I sometimes get requests by publishers wanting to use some of my photos from Flickr, particularly when I take a photo of an obscure establishment for which no decent photos exist online.

My next step was to repeat the subway ride from my previous trip, taking the 1 train down to Houston Street. Everything was exactly the same for this subway ride so I won’t repeat my previous description. I was able to quickly find Bleecker Street and this time I did not get lost because I had detailed notes on the entire street. I added a topic to my notes on Bleecker Street with every single cross street listed. I found photos of establishments on every street corner and used Google Street View to do a virtual walk through of the route. This worked perfectly! I was able to find my way to the Off-Broadway theaters I wanted to locate. I even took photos on many street corners to update my notes. For example, I see that the “Welcome to Greenwich Village” sign is gone from the intersection of Bleecker Street and Macdougal Street. I can tell from my notes that I got on Bleecker Street at 6th Avenue after walking north on 6th Avenue from the 1 Broadway – Seventh Avenue Local’s Houston Street station.

Anyway, I was able to find the Lynn Redgrave Theater on Bleecker Street. This is the home of Culture Project, a theater company which does political plays. Then I came to the Sheen Center, a relatively new performing arts and culture center associated with the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. I only discovered this place while doing my research on Bleecker Street. Various fringe theater companies could potentially use this performance space so it was worthwhile to locate it. When I reached the end of Bleecker Street at the Bowery I came across something completely unexpected, a beautiful mural of Joey Ramone right across from where CBGB used to exist. I would have made the trip down to Lower Manhattan just to see this! Next I found the Bouwerie Lane Theatre on Bond Street but the building is now an art gallery and had no theater signs. Further up Bond Street I located Gene Frankel Theatre. There was a large flatbed truck stuck in the street right in front of the building, but eventually it managed to get around a double parked car so I could get a decent photo of this theater. This is what I intended to do last week but I got lost. Mission accomplished!

Joey Ramone Mural

Joey Ramone Mural

I had two more places to locate now that I was in the area. First I wanted to see a literary landmark, the Nuyorican Poets Café in the East Village. Then I wanted to visit the Housing Works bookstore. I walked a long ways along Houston Street to reach Avenue C in the East Village. I took a lot of photos of Houston Street because I’m working on a new help topic devoted to this street. I already did have a list of the cross streets in my notes and that was really useful. There is a lot of construction going on along Houston Street which shows up in my photos. But I think this construction has been going on forever because I remember seeing it years ago when I was in the neighborhood. I had no trouble finding Nuyorican Poets Café. Even though this is primarily a community cultural center devoted to poetry and literary events, there have been plays done there. I fact, I bought a book, Action: The Nuyorican Poets Café Theater Festival by Miguel Algarin and Lois Griffith.

Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Next I walked west on the other side of Houston Street to reach Housing Works Bookstore Cafe near where Houston Street crosses Broadway. This used book store is very popular in New York City and often features readings by famous authors. For example, Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer did a book signing there and I used a few photos from that in my notes. I had trouble finding their bookshelf for Theatre but eventually I located it in the back of the store along the wall to the right of the cafe. I found two plays to buy; Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill and Albertine In Five Times by Michel Tremplay. These two books cost me $13.34 which is a bit expensive for used books, but the money goes to a good cause.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

My next goal was to head back uptown to buy more plays at the Drama Book Shop. I made the mistake of taking a 6 train uptown and it was ridiculously crowded as usual. We were packed in like sardines! At this point, I should mention that it was really hot in the subways. I was dressed for chilly weather but it must have been 60 degrees Fahrenheit all day. I was frequently sweltering in my light jacket with a light sweater underneath. Ordinarily I would need my winter coat for early November. Thanks global warming! I got off at the Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street and walked west and south to 40th Street. I felt a bit rushed at the Drama Book Shop but I managed to find two books I wanted to buy; Humana Festival 2009: The Complete Plays and In the Heart of America and Other Plays by Naomi Wallace. As I was paying for these books, the sales clerk made a curious comment about the Humana Festival 2009. Something about how one of the playwrights was rarely published. This really surprised me because that was precisely why I bought this book! It features a play by Alex Dremann, a Philadelphia playwright who has nothing published except a 10 minute play in this book. But I didn’t quite catch the name of the playwright and he may have meant Charles L. Mee, a playwright well known for making his work available online for rewrites. There was also a play by Naomi Wallace in this book which I did not expect.

I was in a rush to get out of the book store because I had a play to see at 2:00 p.m. Fortunately the theater was only a few blocks away but I felt I had to run to get there in time. Actually I was a bit early so I could use the restroom and get a drink from their water fountain. I was powerfully thirsty after sweltering in my warm clothing! The play I saw was Night Is A Room by Naomi Wallace at the Signature Theater on 42nd Street. I was not familiar with Naomi Wallace’s work but the ticket was only $25.00 and that is a bargain for Off Broadway. The Signature Theater has a book store and they were selling In the Heart of America and Other Plays by Naomi Wallace but I’d just bought that. There was a long line at the cafe so I could not get anything to drink. As I said, I used the water fountain near the restroom.

Night Is A Room was the greatest motherfucking play I’ve ever seen, because it was literally a mother fucking play, a play about incest. The play was about a man who leaves his hot wife to shack up with his frumpy mother. The audience members sitting next to me where really shocked by this play. I just didn’t buy it. The male actor, Bill Heck, was very handsome, like a movie star. He has been in a few movies. His wife, played by Dagmara Dominczyk, is smoking hot. However, the role of Doré was played by Ann Dowd and she looked like an ugly, middle-aged housewife gone to seed. So I just could not buy a handsome man leaving his beautiful wife for this lumpy housewife. Even great acting could not sell this to me. I almost think this was an acting exercise, see if you can convince the audience that you are attracted to this hideous woman. It was a very impressive effort but there was no way he could be attracted to her! So it was really shocking when Marcus french kisses Doré. I mean they really went at it with what should have been a very hot display of public affection. But I was just like, ew, gross! Now, I don’t know if this was bad casting. The drama would have been more intense if the mother had been old, but still attractive, like Ethel Barrymore. Then I could have accepted Marcus’ attraction for his mother. But maybe they wanted an actress who looks very motherly in order to increase the shock value. I almost forgot to mention that some soft yellow lights set to light the actors horizontally almost gave the impression of sunset, an interesting and beautiful effect.

After the play I went to Brazil Grill where I ordered a Passion Fruit Cosmopolitan drink and the Camarão Bahíana; sautéed shrimp, onions, bell peppers and garlic sauce. This meal cost me $50.00 with the tip. I think it was outrageously expensive for what it was. Basically I just got six jumbo shrimp with some rice to ladle the sauce onto. I will never eat there again! I should mention that this restaurant was actually recommended in my Playbill for Night Is A Room.

My final goal for this trip was to visit the Whitney Museum of American Art, which moved into a new building at the end of the High Line. You can buy a timed ticket for this museum online so I bought a ticket for 5:30 p.m. This proved to be too close to the time I needed to be at the pickup spot for the bus, 6:45 p.m. I would need at least a half hour to get back uptown and walk a few blocks to 6th Avenue and West 51st Street. I took a C Eighth Avenue Local train at the 50th Street station to get downtown and got off at the 14th Street station. From there it was short walk to the Whitney Museum of American Art but it was very dark out so I just got lucky in that I headed in the right direction. I really just needed to look for the High Line. I had to rush through the exhibits but I did go outside onto the terraces where you can enjoy great views of the city. Since it was early in the night the city was all lit up and the views were spectacular. I took a few photos but unfortunately my camera does not take good photos in low light so none of my photos from the terrace are any good.

In conclusion, this was another successful trip to New York City and demonstrates how important careful planning is when you have a limited amount of time in the city. You need to get around very efficiently if you want to pack in a lot of activities. Although my exploration of Lower Manhattan may seem a bit pointless, it lays the groundwork for future trips when I may need to arrive on time at an obscure Off Broadway theater.

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