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Friday, July 30, 2004

Walking for miles

There aren’t many quiet places in New York City, but Central Park is awesome and enchanting, especially the Shakespeare Garden. I just came from the Delacorte Theater box office trying to score some tickets for tonight’s Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Much Ado About Nothing.” I simply love the language in that play. Beatrice and Benedict are two of the smartest whips around and their playful banter is great fun.

The performance is sold out, but I may consider getting in line for standby tickets. Just don’t know if I want to waste my first visit standing in a long line. The actors are rehearsing this afternoon so as you walk through the Shakespeare Garden his spoken words permeate the air.

Softball is a serious pastime in Central Park. There are games on every diamond and many fans around to watch.

I tried to grab lunch at Lindy’s, but there were many people waiting in line to be seated and a completely arrogant hostess who acted as if no one was there. I chose not to wait and instead grabbed a hot dog from one of the park vendors.

The glass walls of the Central Park conservatory arise out of the park and I draw in my breath because it reminds me of an Edith Wharton novel in which two lovers escape to the conservatory from the elements and from their real lives while walking in the park. For a 150-year-old park, it looks pretty good. The kids would love the Belvedere Castle and the many grassy areas in which to run. Although it shows some signs of wear and tear, that’s also part of its charm.

While walking over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art I walked through a tunnel and silhouetted at the other end was a man playing saxophone. No doubt he was appreciating the acoustic nuances of the brick tunnel. And a homeless poet tries to sell me a really bad poem. I made him recite it for me and then told him it was a start and gave him a buck for his efforts. He said three times, “Where you from, Brooklyn?”

Artists set up stands along Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue. I bought two silver gelatin prints, one of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings and one of Central Park looking toward the Upper West Side in winter. I also bought a larger photo of the Flat Iron building. One of my all-time favorite photos is Alfred Stieglitz’s famous winter photo of that building, so I had to have this one. The trio will look great in my office, a nice memento of my first visit.

The other quiet place I found was walking down Fifth Avenue along the Upper East Side. The din of taxis honking and buses barreling down the street is much less, although the intensity increases as you head closer to Midtown. Let’s face it, there aren’t nearly as many people walking the streets there.

Afterward I headed back to Madison and Lexington. I had to see the Chrysler Building in the daylight, to see the glint of the sun reflected off the chrome gargoyles buttressing out of the building. I paused a moment in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt to rest my legs. I’ve walked so much I’m developing shin splints. As I sat there wishing for a leg massage I contemplated heading in to Grand Central Station next door at 5 p.m. The story goes that if you stand in the middle at rush hour within 10 minutes you’ll run into someone you know. Hmmm. I opted to come back and rest instead. There’s a definite weekend energy and electricity tonight that I didn’t sense last night. Times Square is downright nutty at 5 on a Friday.

I should mention that my room on the 26th floor of the Sheraton New York Hotel and Tower overlooks 53rd Street and 7th Avenue. I can see Times Square out my window. And I’m listening to the staccato whistle of the traffic cops on the street below.

My big decision tonight is where to eat. I did Italian last night, so maybe seafood? Or maybe hit a New York Deli? We shall see.

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