Saturday, August 28, 2004

New York, New York

On Saturday morning, L. and I began our assault proper on the great metropolis: New York City. From our base in beautiful and scenic Westport, we first drove south to Greenwich, Connecticut to have brunch - quiche and cappuccino - at a little patisserie ("you don't get quiche at a patisserie . . .") with C. and her boyfriend, two friends of L's. For reasons that I still don't quite understand, C. was moving to Africa and not likely to return any time soon, but it was very nice meeting her and I'm sure L. appreciated the time with her old friend, and the quiche was certainly nothing to complain about, either.

After brunch, L. and I backtracked a little and dropped the rental car off in Stamford and took the train into Grand Central Station for our final assault on NYC.

An important note here: if you came across this page because you Googled the words "assault" and "New York City," and you just so happen to be some sort of Homeland Security, Patriot Act or other law enforcement official, please be reassured that I only use the term "launch an assault" as an ironic play of words. Absolutely no threat is being implied here. You may go on with your search.

Anyway, we arrived at Grand Central and took a cab to the Waldorf Astoria, where L. had managed to secure us a room through From the Waldorf, we hailed a cab for SoHo to see the play "Le Comedie du Bicyclette" by The Bicycle Men, part of the NY Fringe Festival. Cab progress was agonizingly slow, however, due to all of the traffic created in lower Manhattan by the protesters. Still and all, we made the play just in time.

The Bicycle Men is a comedy group that uses original songs and humor to tell engaging (if slightly surreal) stories. "Le Comedie du Bicyclette" is the story of an American whose bike breaks down in a French village, where he encounters rude repairmen, disturbing puppets, tourists from Holland and Texas, unsettling cabaret performers, and the god of bicycles. The inside joke in the first paragraph of this post ("you don't get quiche at a patisserie . . .") is based on a recurring gag in the play. L. and I both enjoyed the show immensely.

Keeping our French theme going, after the play, we walked a few blocks crosstown and had steak au poivre at Balthaszar ("I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." — Twelfth Night). And after dinner, we walked a few more block to the East Village, where we saw the controversial new movie, "The Brown Bunny." In her review, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times wrote, "Remove self-love from love, wrote the 18th-century French aphorist and revolutionary Chamfort," - see how the French theme continues? - "and not much would be left. Remove self-love and self-serving outrage from the already notorious 'The Brown Bunny,' a minor scandal of a movie that opens today in New York and Los Angeles, and not much would be left, either. Which isn't to say that this artful road movie from the director, narcissist nonpareil and most excellent huckster Vincent Gallo should be avoided, especially if you like your art-house exercises tarted up with some good old-fashioned, hotel-room smut."

After our art-house exercise, it was off in a cab and back up to the Waldorf with the early edition of the Sunday NY Times tucked under my arm.

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