New York City is experiencing a seemingly unending heat wave which is taxing both our spirits and our wallets. Many of us duck indoors, finding solace in brick-and-mortar purveyors where we trade goods and services we don’t really need for the air conditioning we desperately do. But the brief reprieve often does little to slow the faucet of sweat rolling down our scalps and backs. Raphael Pope-Sussman wrote a wonderful piece for Gothamist about the ghosts of heat waves past where he revealed that many New Yorkers once slept on their fire escapes to avoid the stifling heat inside their apartments. I couldn’t help but immediately think of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The movie — one of my favorites — starts with the view from L.B. Jeffries’s Greenwich Village apartment in the midst of high summer. It scans a courtyard and introduces us to his neighbors, the rising mercury level enabling our voyeurism, since “nobody seems to pull their blinds during a hot spell like this.”
Psycho (1960) Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
This summer it seems we can feel the presence of the legendary director all around us. The most obvious representation can be found on the Met Rooftop Garden: the Psycho Barn. British artist Cornelia Parker started with the idea of a red barn and perused Edward Hopper paintings for inspiration, only to discover that the house in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous thriller, Psycho, was modeled after Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad. She learned from actual movie set photographs that the Psycho house was simply a two-sided facade, and decided to build something similar with repurposed barn materials for this project. Juxtaposed against the Manhattan skyline, it’s a fun contrast between fiction and reality, rural and urban. It’s also great opportunity to channel your inner Norman Bates (I’m pretty sure we all have one, and in my case, these stifling temperatures might be bringing it to the surface). Psycho Barn is on display through October 31.
Then if you happen find yourself near Battery Park City or the World Trade Center, find your way to Brookfield Place where Air Pressure, the latest art installation commissioned by Arts Brookfield, will conjure yet another Hitchcock masterpiece: The Birds. Studio F Minus out of Toronto has put a massive flock of birds on display, each flapping its wings independently thanks to electronic timers, to capture the act of flight. It’s a piece that calls to mind Helen Keller’s quote “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”, since the individual birds are not particularly striking, but the sheer volume of them leaves an impression. Note that we featured another Arts Brookfield installation here: on unbearably warm days Brookfield Place is a great indoor venue from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Hudson as well as curated cultural experiences and public art installations. Air Pressure is free and on display until September 12.
Alfred Hitchcock regularly made cameo appearances in his movies, popping up briefly as a passenger on a bus or in a photograph in a newspaper. Spotting him became fun sport for his fans. So perhaps this summer, in lieu of chasing Pokemon, kick it old school and do this instead.
Pair it with:
A meal at Grand Banks
Manhattan is an island, though there are days when you’re smack dab in the middle of so much brick, tile and concrete that you’d be hard-pressed to recall it. So this summer find time to visit Grand Banks on Pier 25 for the best kind of reminder. Grand Banks is a bar and restaurant on a docked sailboat which also works to raise funds in support of maritime conservation, education, and preservation. The lobster roll is superb, and on a breezy day you can squint and pretend you’re on the French Riviera, watching John Robie escape the police from Bertani’s waterfront restaurant in To Catch a Thief. Grand Banks will end its season on October 15 this year.
Mon-Tues 4pm –12am
Wed-Fri 12pm –12am
Sat-Sun 11am –12am (brunch 11am –2pm)