Every time we head to Chinatown, Justin has a minor anxiety attack. The crowded streets and the slow foot traffic drive him crazy, but we still find ourselves there with remarkable regularity. It’s impossible to stay away from this section of Lower Manhattan because it simply has so much to offer. And we’re not just there to eat, either. Here are some things you can (and should) do in Chinatown:
New Yorkers suffer exorbitant rents and ridiculous commutes, but we get amazing pizza and Central Park in return. We are masters of the trade off. So when you propose an escape from the city, a skeptical New Yorker might ask, “What exactly am I giving up my breakfast bagels for?” Well, if you’re headed to Austin, the answer is: A LOT.
Like many women, I’ve had a somewhat turbulent relationship with my self-image. Thanks to a particularly nasty bout with eczema when I was younger and constant weight fluctuations, it was difficult to feel comfortable — much less confident — in my own skin. Age helped me navigate those treacherous waters, but fashion was mostly what kept me afloat. Despite how I felt about my body, I always found ways to have fun with how I dressed.
“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space”
– Up on the Roof, The Drifters, 1962
There are very few things New Yorkers love more than the following (in no particular order of appreciation): soaking in the sun, lounging on rooftops and imbibing a few cocktails. Offer any of these things, or all of them at once, and you’ll find hoards of the city’s faithful congregated.
I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately. Maybe it’s that last-bit-of-winter funk, or the fact that Justin and I recently both caught a nasty bug that knocked us off our feet. But we’ve been opting for quieter weekends at home, leaving us scurrying to catch up with all the museum exhibitions we’d previously shortlisted. One of those was A Pen of All Work by Raymond Pettibon at the New Museum.
When I visited Italy many years ago, I particularly remember a visit to the Galleria Borghese in Rome, where I made my first acquaintance with the works of Caravaggio. When we continued on to Florence, I was excited to hear that additional works were located in the Uffizi Gallery. We spent the day visiting other sights, reserving a few hours at the end of the day for the museum. We saved the best for last, only to discover that the Uffizi was under construction and that they had moved Caravaggio’s works to a different section. And the section was located a distance away from where we were. @#$%! So we ran, and luckily managed to get in a quick, breathy view of his pieces just under the wire.
While I do find Caravaggio’s works to be magnificent, his tumultuous life made his art all the more intriguing. His story includes all the makings of a hit reality TV show: poverty, celebrity, violence, death, imprisonment, libel, poisoning. But his influence on painters from then on has been undisputed, and Valentin De Boulogne is one of the many who have followed in his footsteps.
While we cringe every time we hear someone refer to themselves as a “brand”, it’s impossible to deny that nowadays people sell. Celebrity can arise as much from a book one labored on for five years as a viral video one shot in five seconds. Sometimes we fail to comprehend the attention, but then there are numerous articles calling the Mona Lisa overrated. (Google it.) Portraits are depictions of people, and what makes them uniquely engaging is there are at least two people involved: the artist and the subject. The subject could be attractive, the artist could be notorious, and the relationship between the two could be scandalous. People never fail to intrigue.
Lynn’s a natural-born planner, and I’m, shall we say, a little more “fluid” in my approach to life. She writes ruler-straight notations with breathtakingly symmetrical penmanship in composition notebooks and prolifically schedules our digital calendar with placeholders for upcoming events. I plan what I’m wearing 10 minutes before we head out for the day and am never more happy than when a pedestrian evening in the city takes a serendipitous left turn and we end up at strange locales we never would have considered in advance. After many, many years of marriage, I like to think that we balance each other out. She has opened my eyes to the fact that a little structure often leads to more frequent and more meaningful experiences, and I remind her that spontaneity in life is an important counterbalance to the weariness and monotony of everyday existence.
Recently, a bit of chance and calculation collided in our visit to Society of Illustrators where we ventured to take in A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman. In typical fashion, Lynn sent me a link to an article about the exhibit a few weeks beforehand and asked, “Interested?” I afforded the article a two-second, cursory examination and replied, “Sure. Why not?” I knew, of course, exactly who Ralph Steadman was, though, admittedly, more by his work and the company he kept than his name.
If you ask someone what they think about New York City, they’ll undoubtedly have an opinion. For those seduced by the city’s many charms, the response will probably be that of hackneyed superlatives. Naysayers, on the other hand, will issue a laundry list of grievances. You’ll hear any number of things, but I’d be willing to bet “boring” won’t be one of them. This city’s single greatest virtue is that, no matter how long you live here, you’ll never see it all.
Time and time again, it has introduced me to something new and unexpected, quite often coinciding with a period when I’ve become increasingly weary and disillusioned. Most recently, that astonishing revelation came in the form of a repurposed freight elevator shaft along a dodgy-looking alley in Lower Manhattan.
There are artists that inspire other artists, and Diane Arbus is one of them. Even if you’re not familiar with her name, you’re likely to be familiar with her work. You might recall seeing her famous photographs, Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park or Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ (which happens to bear a striking resemblance to the twins from Kubrick’s The Shining). You might also recall a movie starring Nicole Kidman based loosely on her life. When her photographs were shown at MoMa in 1967, the Director of the Department of Photography at the time included Diane Arbus in a new generation of photographers which he believed varied from the photographers of the past in that they “had a belief that the world is worth looking at, and the courage to look at it without theorizing.”