Tuesday, June 14, 2005

NYC Tourist

I have returned to my blog after a brief absence. A friend, G, from England stayed with me this past weekend, ostensibly so he could attend his cousin's wedding celebration this past Saturday. While G was here, I was lured from my long social and emotional isolation and into the wilds of being a tourist in my own city.

Saturday, we visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was not as interesting as I thought it would be because the statue itself is closed to the public. In contrast, Ellis Island was much more interesting than I thought possible. The entire facility on Ellis Island is currently being refurbished after it was allowed to fall into ruins after it was closed in 1954. Some of the refurbished areas are open to the public and comprise the Immigrant Museum, full of artifacts, photographs and video, sound recordings and other items of interest. Looking at these exhibits, I wondered if my grandparents came through Ellis Island? I will never know of course, because my family basically has shunned me since I was 15. Nevertheless, I like to think that my progenitors climbed the stairways and walked the hallways of Ellis Island as they went through the interview process before being granted admittance to this country.

Saturday evening, G and I ran through a brief but impressive downpour to attend the wedding celebration. I didn't know anyone there, except G, his cousin, J, and D, the man she married approximately six months ago. I tried to not give in to my usual shyness when confronted with this scenario. I met some of G's family, who were all very gracious to me. Finally, when we were seated, I noticed that there were disposable cameras all over the tables. Everyone else was too busy talking and catching up on old times, so I took pictures. And more pictures. And more. I took pictures of flowers, of candles, of food, fruits and cakes, of people talking, dancing and hugging. No one was safe from my roving camera, although I did my best to blend in with the furniture when I noticed anyone else holding a camera.

Sunday, my friend and I found some wonderful eggs Benedict (his favorite) at a great little restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and then we were awed by Hopper paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art. When the Whitney closed for the evening, we walked along Fifth Avenue, which was liberally covered with many many tons of trash deposited by a million brown and black people who invaded that posh neighborhood to celebrate the annual Puerto Rican parade. Their presence must have nearly killed the uber-rich people who live there, people who have proven that they don't like Pale Male and Lola's litter, which is a very minor thing when compared to this reign of rotting garbage, up to a foot deep in places.

Blog pal, James, will be pleased to know that G and I went to a movie Sunday evening (theatres are great havens from excessive heat and humidity), the excellent English film called Ladies in Lavender, starring Judy Dench and Maggie Smith.

Monday, I brought G to the Natural History Museum's new Dinosaurs! exhibit, which I think is the best exhibit they've had since I've lived in NYC. Dinosaurs! is full of computer animations that illustrate how scientists explore issues such as how fast Tyrannosaurus rex might have run, how differing neck lengths reveal different feeding levels for Apatosaurus species, whether or not Apatosaurus species could stand on their hind legs to feed, as portrayed in the opening scenes of the film, Jurassic Park, and of course, the crowning jewel was the Liaoning Diorama (pictured below) filled with artists' renderings of the many newly discovered bird fossils, a real pond with giant waterstriders, cockroaches and cicadas creeping through leaves that had fallen from ancestral Gingko trees and ferns, ancient mammals and crocodilians. Unfortunately, two hours later, I reluctantly left G and the Dinosaurs! exhibit so I could teach my class.


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

3 Peer Reviews:

Blogger James said...

Wow ... Ladies in Lavender is playing at the local indie theater, but I hadn't had any real stimulus to see it up to now. Ok, maybe not in the theater, but it will definitely make the Netflix list.

Interesssssssssting weekend. I hope you were as happy and at peace with yourself as your blog entry conveys. And yes, the Statue of Liberty is not as impressive as you would hope for it to be, even when it was open. You still had to climb a lot of stairs to get up to the crown, the torch was closed because of structural issues, and I don't think the huffing and puffing to get there was worth the trouble. Ellis Isle, though, is always worth a look see.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Miranda said...

At least four of my great-grandparents came through Ellis Island before setting in MA and MI. I wish we had their oral history preserved; unfortunately, their story died with them in the 50's. I really must visit the exhibit there one of these years as the stories of those who came to the US through there have always fascinated me.

Glad you had a bit of fun this weekend!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Michlt said...

I have also learned that playing tour guide is one of the best ways to get to know your own town.

And thanks for the tip about the Dinosaurs! exhibit. I'll need to make a trip to NYC soon to see that.

12:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home