Iconic New York
By Lou Pastina
Last week, I wrote about Manhattan, specifically the difference between the Lower East Side and the West Village. One still depressed, the other vibrant and lively. Basically, a tale of two cities. This past weekend, rather than escaping to the mountains or Florida for the long weekend, we escaped to New York again, to indulge in iconic New York, to see if it was still there!
We decided to test Broadway as we were given a very generous gift certificate by our lovely niece. But what show to see? There are some very strange shows on Broadway these days, and we weren’t into being “looped” or “educated,” so we opted for a revival of the musical comedy “Some Like it Hot.” And we were richly rewarded with a terrifically entertaining show. A spectacular song and dance story with so many laughs and a sweet twist, updating the gender bending story that Billy Wilder brought to the big screen decades ago. The two leads were so good together and the supporting cast so well-rehearsed that I could not understand why critics had handed them lukewarm reviews. We saw a matinee and were exhausted by show end, only to realize the cast had to do it all over again in mere hours. Broadway actors are truly amazing. We left with a warm, feel-good glow. We can report that Broadway is alive and well. We did wear our masks as we sat for the show, even though it was not required. We felt with the current surge, why not be extra careful? It was an easy thing to do for two and a half hours.
We ate not far from the theater at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. We had been to one of these restaurants before in Charleston, and were amazed at how good the steaks were, but had never been to the New York outpost. Housed in a hotel first floor, the ambience is not all that special, but the steaks were as good as we remembered. Not inexpensive, but by New York steakhouse standards, as good, if not better, than most and worth a splash.
Speaking of not inexpensive, we also ventured to the Carlyle Hotel on Friday night to visit the iconic Bemelmans Bar. This bar boasts some of the very best martinis in all of Manhattan and is known for its painted walls by the famous author who exchanged his art for a free stay. Trust me, you can’t get that deal anymore. Let me recommend that you not visit this bar on a Friday or Saturday night unless you are prepared for at least an hour’s wait. While it is worth it, you can probably be seated in the afternoon or a Sunday night more quickly than our wait. This is one of the few bars that still offers a piano player and is noted for its most famous one: Bobby Short. If you want to get dressed up and do Manhattan right, this is a must do first stop. You can stay longer but remember to bring plenty of moolah!
Our last adventure for our getaway weekend was the Museum of Natural History on Central West. This museum, which was recently made famous again through the Ben Stiller movies “A Night at the Museum,” is a must for young and old. I miss the beautiful Teddy Roosevelt statue removed from the front because of some interpretation that was unintended. But the Museum is still worth the time and trouble. We were lucky enough to be there with our granddaughter and watch her amazed face as she ran to every exhibit. This place is a kid magnet, and they have free reign to run all over. It’s a delight to watch their faces as they come face to face with lions and tigers and bears! It is truly a New York gem! If you have the time, go across the street to the New York Historical Society. This place is truly fascinating and illuminating. Even though it’s cold, Central Park is beautiful for a stroll this time of year too!
So, New York is alive in some places and struggling in others. Pick your spots, do your research, be safe, but get out there, and live and enjoy the greatest city in the world, our home: New York!