Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grateful in New York, New York

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m a long way from home in suburban Sydney, but Christmas in New York has been on my bucket list for some time, and so, here I am. It’s cold outside, very cold, but there’s no snow, yet! With a big day planned I’m taking the night off to watch for the first time the first season of Sex and the City and write this blog. For there is much to be grateful for the past five days in the only city that can make me smile every day, even when I am sick (and inevitably whenever I visit here in winter I always get sick!).

Here’s a few of the things I'm grateful for New York this week:

MoCADA: I’ve been to Brooklyn before, roaming the streets, enjoying the shops  and I loved making snow angels in the park, but this week was the first time I visited the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art. My time there was spent talking about the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal literature to a intimate crowd, including Robin Buncamper, Loida Febo-Garcia and Vanessa Rodd (pictured above). I also enjoyed checking out the current exhibition and the groovy gift shop. I’m most grateful  to Zemmen Kidane and curators Jabari Owens-Bailey (pictured below) for their hospitality.

 FLUSHING LIBRARY: I had no idea that Flushing Queens was going to be the bustling, bright, multicultural minefield that it was when I visited on Wednesday night. I was like a kid in a toy shop, gobsmacked by the lights and colour and energy in Main Street of Flushing, home of Queens Library – and I’m told – the most visited library in the US at 14million library goers a year. That’s half the population of Australia! I was grateful to those who came along to my yarn about Aboriginal literature and am grateful for the opportunity to see yet another lively side of New York. I can’t wait to go back and check out all the fresh produce my driver said the area was best known for.

MoMA: In the middle of this mad town, with over 10,000 cabs, too many skyscrapers, accents from around the world, tourists snapping cameras non-stop and the smells of pizza and donuts wafting through the air, the most peaceful place I found this week was the Museum of Modern Art  on 53rd Street. I always visit to be inspired and this week blew me away with exhibitions by Sonja Ivekovic who introduced me to Lady Rosa of Luxemburg.  Of course the usual suspects are at MoMa: Matisse, Roden, Cezanne, Klimt and Monet (and there’s nothing usual about the Water Lilies in full scale) but this visit, my fave piece was the Feast of Santa Anita  (1931) by Rivera. No need to guess why!

STICK FLY: At the recommendation of a writer friend in Houston, I got tickets to see Alicia Keys’ production STICK FLY  at the Cort Theatre, and with a provocative, witty, well-paced script, a cast full of awarded actors and a story-line that could easily fit in Australia, it was some of the best theatre I have ever experienced, at home or abroad. I was on a high when I left the theatre, and that was before I got to meet three of the actors Dule Hill (pictured above), Condola Rashad and Tracey Thoms (below). And then, I was simply speechless. I walked towards Times Square feeling incredibly grateful.

MULTI-FAITH/MULTICULTURAL: I’m grateful that in New York people say ‘Happy Holidays’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas’ and the lobbies of hotels and apartment buildings have Christmas trees and menorahs on show. In fact, much is still open on Christmas day because let’s face it, not everyone is Christian. There is definitely something special about being in a city that acknowledges it’s multicultural and multi-faith residents, and at the same time has uplifting public artwork – check out these massive baubles on 6th Avenue. Love them! I also love the Christmas markets at Grand Central, Union Square and Columbus Circle. Never have I had to restrain myself from shopping as I have this week – but alas the sales will be here in TWO sleeps!

CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS: There are a LOT of Aussies in New York and the highlight for me this week has been catching up with some of them. On Thursday I headed downtown to Soho, the place I first fell in love with Manhattan, and met up with three deadly diva I used to work with at the Australia Council. They all live here now (I hope to be next!)  They introduced me to Boqueria – the finest tapas bar I’ve ever been to. Oh, the food... I am still full! As you can see above, we were having a great time! Shout out to Dan, our waiter... oh, which reminds me of the waiter I met up on 48th who whispered ‘your eyes melt me’ and presented me with a piece of cheesecake and ‘prety eyes’ written in chocolate sauce. Now, that’s the Manhattan I am truly grateful for!

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