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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yoo Nork

That's what Elle kept calling it.

The three girls and I made it to the Whitney and as predicted, the kids were enthralled with Calder's circus. We looked in the gift shop but, alas, they did not have the video I remember seeing years ago.

MOMA was our next stop. The girls excitedly recognized several works including Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (most embarrassingly because their father has an especially hideous tie with that image on it); and images of Warhol's soup cans, ghostly figures of Munch, Matisse's goldfish, Pollock's splatters, Mondrian's boxes, and Dali's melting clocks. The sculptures were fantastic and as difficult as it was at first to accept Oppenheim's Object -- I mean, c'mon, a furry teacup, saucer and spoon? -- or Oldenburg's Giant Soft Fan as art, it made us realize how shockingly radical and groundbreaking the Magrittes and the Chagalls and all those other artists must have seemed back in the late 19th and early 20th century. Lunch at the museum's cafe 2 was a real treat. I had the Bruschetta Three Ways: Prosciutto with figs; ricotta with roasted red pepper; and tomato salad atop toast perfectly drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mmmmmm. View the chronologically arranged painting and sculpture highlights online.

Afterward we took a tour through Central Park. No horses for us. Once it hits around 90 degrees, the horses are relieved of duty. That's okay, because the girls' grandmother, Gabby, would have been horrified anyway. She thinks it appalling labor for the poor animals. So instead we had a young, extremely healthy Polish guy haul our butts around in a bike cart. His narrative was amusing for his inability to keep his cardinal and ordinal numbers separate and mainly for its inaccuracy. The date 1853 charmingly became "eighteen fifty-third," and so on, and did you know one of the Mansons killed John Lennon?

That afternoon my parents had arrived in New Jersey, so the next day only Sarabelle and Gracie accompanied me back into the city for another museum tour. Our cab cruised through town neck and neck with the General Lee, continually blaring its "Dixie" horn, in town to promote the opening of The Dukes of Hazzard that day. New Yorkers are just way too cool. They hardly gave it a glance. Imagine the General Lee driving around here... Yeehaw, baby!

We saw the Met, well, only as much Met as you can see in about six hours. Okay, so we only scratched the surface, but we did get to see a good part of the Egyptian and Greek exhibits and some of the medieval displays including the armor collection. In the gift shop, I didn't even have to trick them into their purchases. They picked out miniature metal Roman soldiers, and begged me to buy this edition of Usborne's Greek Gazette, like I really needed to be persuaded. I'm definitely considering picking up a few of their other publications in that vein. They also thought the Fandex Mythology would be a cool addition to our studies and I wholeheartedly agreed, so that was added to our stash.

On the cab ride to Penn Station our cabbie nearly became a victim of road rage when an irate truck driver menacingly leaped out of his vehicle and charged us, after cutting us off intentionally, twice, for some imagined slight. I suppose this happens all the time. Our driver quietly mumbled, "Same to you," with his Indian/Pakistani inflected English and then apologized profusely to us for his subtle emotional outburst. And then ol' General Lee showed up again to escort us all the way back through rush hour traffic. "I wish I was in the land of cotton..."? Nah, I still love New York.

Another notable sidetrip on our mini-vacation, not by any stretch of the imagination a highlight, but still something to see, was a trip to the Jersey Shore. Four hours in traffic, $50.00 to park two cars, $6.50 per adult and $3.00 per child just to sit on the packed, filthy sand, and garish carnival attractions as far as the eye can see. Now I know why everyone moves to Florida. I know, I know, "If you don't have anything nice to say..." Well, there was one positive part of that whole experience: Fried Oreos.

Contrast that with this visit on the way home after the shore debacle: Lake Hopatcong, a five minute walk down the hill and across the street from my brother's place, no admission charge, pretty, clean, white sandy beach. What was it Dorothy said? Something about never having to look any further than your own backyard?

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