Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ category

Ankling to the King Tut Exhibit

August 1, 2010

No pictures this time. Hey, I barely have any description as there was a prohibition on pictures and it was too dark to sneak one anyway. Plus, I didn’t have anything to write notes with.

I was wandering through Times Square and was offered a handout by a young lady. I declined it (politely – those people have a tough job and get either ignored or rejected most of the time), but then about two steps later I reversed and went back and got the pamphlet.

The pamplet indicated that the King Tut exhibit is in its last days. It’ll be a long, long time before it’s back. And it had a $5 off coupon on it. How could I resist?

I’ve heard bits and pieces about the exhibit, but no one has mentioned going to it. I’ve been thinking I ought to go and wondered why it seemed pretty low profile. I remember the last exhibit of it, back in the 70s(?), and it made all the magazines and all. I was nowhere near NYC or other cities on its tour at the time so never saw it.

The exhibit is on 44th Street between 7th Ave and 8th Ave. It’s hard to miss, but I guess I have missed it recently.

I went in and, being a cheap guy, I immediately asked how much it was (even before getting to the ticket counter – there was a long line). It turns out that the admission is $29.50 plus tax, plus a few doo-dads they throw at you. The first was a 3-D movie. No thanks. The second was an audio tour featuring the voice of Omar Sharif. Yeah, not a problem. The charge for that, $7. After my coupon, it was about $34 total.

When you go in, they have a 90 second intro film. Not bad, but I had to wait about four minutes for it to open up. It seems that they use the film to space out the traffic. Fine by me. After the film, a second set of doors is opened and you enter the exhibit rooms. There are about 4 or 6 of them (I wasn’t counting at the time).

The exhibit starts off very slowly and oddly. There are only about 130 items shown, and I think less than half of them come from the tomb. The others come from other tombs and excavations. Lots of stuff had only minor links to Tut; they were primarily about his father and some relatives.

You’re guided from room to room and Omar’s voice gives much better info on the exhibits than the written materials on the exhibits. However, there are only about 22 or so items he talks about. The rest of the exhibits seemed too small to merit any sort of lengthy discussion.

In about the second room, there’s a sarcophogas. For a moment, I thought it was the one that I’ve seen pictures of a million times…but it wasn’t it. Instead, it was of a relative and was just gold-gilded. Still, pretty cool, but nothing that was like what I was hoping to see. (I really should have done the research and known what I was going to be looking at.)

As I went from one room to the next, I got a couple of interesting feelings about the exhibit. First, the old scam that P.T. Barnum did of “This way to the Egress” kept coming to mind. At the hallway to the next room was always a sign saying “King Tut” and an arrow. ‘Come further in and see the real thing’ it seemed to say. The other feeling was much more positive as the quality of the exhibits kept going up. In about the second to the last room, I saw three items that basically made the visit worthwhile just by themselves. First was a gold box that was beautifully done. Really nicely detailed. Second, a ‘pectoral’ pendant for the chest of Tut. Wow. It had some nice shiny stones in it that really made it fantastic. I guess I like shiny stones more than gold at times.

Finally, there was the small sarcophagas that held Tut’s liver, about a foot long or so. The liver wasn’t in there, though. But the casket was just fantastic. There were some other pieces I also liked (the gold dagger that was in his linen cloths), but these three items were the best in the whole exhibit as far as I was concerned.

I also enjoyed the film of Howard Carter from the original opening of the tomb. It was running on a continuous loop of about 3 or 4 minutes duration.

The final room held what I guess is supposed to be the gemstone of the exhibit: a mummified body without the wrapping. The room was jammed with people and I wondered who it was. There was a film loop on Tut’s unwrapping and DNA testing. But an early sign at the beginning of the exhibit said that Tut’s body was still in Egypt. Who was it? Turns out, it was a replica of Tut.

I guess that bummed me out a little. I really don’t like the exhbitions of bodies (I refuse to go the The Body exhibit that has dozens of actual human bodies turned into plastic freak-like exhibits doing things that the person probably never did in their life like holding an American football in a Heisman-like pose), but it seems bizarre to show a replica at the same time that you are showing some good film of the actual body.

I sort of surprised myself though. I kept thinking about the P.T. Barnum line and when I saw the replica, it just seemed a relief that I could now see the Egress. I went through to the next room, turned in my audio device, and then had my senses assaulted by the required gift shop crud. I didn’t even slow down for it.

Was it worth it? Barely. At least for me. I later was talking with a neighbor and she said that her niece had come to NYC to see the exhibit and had been thrilled at the content. I’ll only say that you might want to check it out a little more before going to it. But, then again, the exhibit is almost over and who knows when it will come back again…

-H

A Saturday in NYC

September 12, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any significant new wandering around NYC; but today I did.

It’s cool, dreary, and overcast with occasional rainshowers. My kind of day. I got up and couldn’t figure out what I felt like doing and realized it’s been forever since I’ve wandered through Central Park. So, off I went. Without my camera (so no new pictures).

I took the bus up to East 72nd Street and started to wander over to the Park. I immediately spotted something interesting: people walking around with runner numbers over their shirts. It turned out that there had been a big fitness run in Central Park and I was getting there too late to see anything of it. Well, except for one or two hundred ex-runners wandering the streets of Manhattan. No big issue, but mixed amongst them were men in kilts! Not with runner numbers…but with musical instruments. Mostly drums. (I would have loved to see bagpipes, but didn’t notice any.) I’ve never heard of bands going along with a fitness run. I realized something else must be going on. Then I started noticing people in identical shirts. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them.

I had accidentally run into the terminus of the annual labor union parade. I don’t know when and where it started, but it was being terminated at 5th Avenue and E. 72nd Street around 11am. The cops were sending the floats in one direction and the marchers in another. The marchers were wandering off toward home (I presume). I started noticing a lot of signs promoting their unions and Democratic Party politicians. No Republicans need apply around that group. I did notice one of the politicians (I recognized him from one of the posters) hugging various marchers. I think I remember his name, but I won’t guess it here.

So I stopped to watch for a little while. There was one good band with cheerleaders, but the rest was pretty boring. No, it was actually very, very, very boring. This and the St. Patricks Day Parade have to be some of my least favorite parades. Just too “municipal government-oriented” for my taste; although I have to point out that a number of the paraders were not associated with the City government. But a whole lot were. I think that if I had stuck around, I’d have seen a very similar contingent to the St. Pat’s grouping.

I did stick around for about 45 minutes. I don’t know why.

Then I entered the Park. Ahhhh! Very pleasant. I didn’t stray too far from a beeline across, but I did get to the sailboat pond where people rent remote control sailboats. There was some sort of birthday party or story-telling going on near the Lewis Carroll statues. Only two sailboats being operated, but both were being controlled pretty well. At least up until the users started using the little engines on them and they started going very quickly and ruined the casual ambiance I was feeling.

I left there and went by the boathouse where you can rent real rowboats. I didn’t see anybody out on the lake, though. The most fun thing I’ve always noticed about that place is that when a man and woman rent the boat, the woman almost always does the rowing. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the standard.

From there I went to Bethesda Fountain and saw a wedding that was just finishing. I always see brides and grooms around there on a weekend.

I did a little more wandering and decided to head out to my favorite Manhattan Street: West 72nd. It hasn’t changed over the past year or so. At least to my eye. I found a little aquarium/tropical fish store and spent a while going through there. I was actually slightly tempted. But my place is way too small for a decent aquarium. And the dead fish smell (probably starting within days of my purchase) would be too pervasive.

I went to Broadway and saw that my old favorite open-air bookselling place is still going strong. Street vendors with used books are always there. I went up Broadway to 51st Street or so and had a hamburger at Nick’s. It wasn’t as good as I remember, but the ambiance is absolutely unchanged. It is the quintessential greasy spoon and is always jammed with stoves, tables, and people.

Afterward, I went home. It was just about a 2 hour jaunt, but very pleasant.

-H

Flat Stanley and Famous Ankles Part 4

July 14, 2009

I hope that James T. of Falls Church is enjoying this series. He sent me Flat Stanley and asked for pictures.

James T. lives next to Washington D.C. That’s the current capital of the United States, but I wonder if he knew that New York City used to be the capital of the United States. When George Washington became president of the United States, this is where he took his oath of office. It is called “Federal Hall”.

20090711 Flat Stanley 06 Federal Hall

Falls Church Virginia is named for its famous “Falls Church”. When he was president of the United States, George Washington would go to Church at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City. They have saved where he used to sit. Here’s Flat Stanley in front of it.

20090711 Flat Stanley 08 St Pauls Chapel pew

Actually, George Washington was president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. New York City was the capital only from 1785 to 1790. So George Washington wasn’t in New York City for all of his time as president.

St. Paul’s Chapel is very old (it was old when George Washington went to it). But it is famous for other reasons than being old and being where George Washington went to Church. In 2001, after the World Trade Center was destroyed, St. Paul’s Chapel served as a headquarters for the rescue teams. There are lots of memorials for what happened there. Inside St. Paul’s Chapel, one os them is made of badges from firefighters all over the world who came and helped.

20090711 Flat Stanley 09 Firefighter badges

-H

Flat Stanley and Famous Ankles Part 3

July 13, 2009

My continuing adventure with Flat Stanley on behalf of the fine and noble James T. of Falls Church, Virginia.

My next stop took me to a very famous location New York: Wall Street. That street is famous for the New York Stock Exchange which is where lots of people buy and sell shares of stock. When lots of people are buying, it is called a “bull market”. That’s always viewed as a good thing on Wall Street, so an artist created a statue of the bull. It was built in 1989. It is 11 feet tall and weighs 7,000 pounds.
20090711 Flat Stanley 05 Wall Street Bull

Flat Stanley also posed in front of one of the entrances to the New York Stock Exchange.

20090711 Flat Stanley 07 Stock Exchange

-H

Flat Stanley and Famous Ankles Part 2

July 12, 2009

I decided that I needed to take Flat Stanley to see the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall and is located on a small island in New York harbor. That’s south of the island of Manhattan. The island is located pretty far out in the harbor.

When I got to the southern tip of Manhattan, I found two nice kids who were happy to pose with Flat Stanley. (The girl had just finished reading Flat Stanley’s book and was a big fan of his.)

20090711 Flat Stanley 02 Kids and Statue of Liberty
The problem with the picture is that the Statue of Liberty is very far out, so it isn’t very big on the picture. I didn’t want to spend about three hours to get out there, so I needed to find a quick solution!

So, I found another Statue of Liberty just a one minute walk away. There are lots of “street performers” who do strange things in Manhattan, and this is one of them. She poses for pictures all day long with tourists. She wasn’t 305 feet tall. Actually, I’m not sure she was 5 feet tall. But she was very nice.

You always know the ones that aren’t the real Statue of Liberty because they like to wear sunglasses. And they aren’t 305 feet tall.
20090711 Flat Stanley 03 Statue of Liberty

-H

Flat Stanley and Famous Ankles Part 1

July 8, 2009

I received a letter from James T. from Falls Church in Virginia. In his letter, James sent a famous person to meet Famous Ankles! I’m honored to host a visit from Flat Stanley and show him around New York City.

The first thing I did was take Flat Stanley to see the United Nations Building. It is often called the “U.N.” and it has hundreds and hundreds of people from countries all over the globe. You have to have a special pass to get inside, so we only looked from outside.

20090708 01 Flat Stanley and the UN

Nearby, there was a small park called “Tudor City Greens” where there was a lot of music and singing going on. It was a concert featuring a lot of singers called caberet singers. Flat Stanley liked it. Especially the singer right behind him in the next picture. Her name is Julie Reyburn.

20090708 01 Flat Stanley listens to singer

After she sang, she came out into the crowd. Flat Stanley and I asked her if she knew about him, and she said “I love Flat Stanley!” She even posed for a picture with him.

20090708 02 Flat Stanley and singer Julie Reyburn

Stay tuned James, for more adventures.

-H

2009 Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue

April 12, 2009

It’s Easter in New York City and the Easter Parade is still a major draw.

Remember, it isn’t a real parade.  The police cordon off 5th Avenue between 49th St. and 57th St. and people mill about.  The minority wear hats.  The majority have cameras.

20090412-easter-parade-01

The place was jammed.  Biggest crowds there that I’ve seen before (this is my fourth or fifth of these).

Every so often, someone decides to do it nicely…or at least over the top in a more elegant manner.  The below were the ones I spotted this year.

20090412-easter-parade-02

But it is almost universally a silly-hat-day.

20090412-easter-parade-03

I liked this kid’s “bucket head” enough that I’m putting in two of him.  (The one below includes his mother(?) who didn’t quite go the buckethead route but kept her’s nice plus another person who went the hat-height method).  But the picture above was my favorite for the day.  So two of him in this post there shall be!

20090412-easter-parade-04

You know, I really didn’t spot any absolutely-new-and-improved hats this year.  It all seemed a little derivative of earlier hats.  I guess that the tried and true route was the one everyone was really going for.

20090412-easter-parade-05

But one thing was a little different from earlier years.  I’ll wait to the end to disclose it.

20090412-easter-parade-06

Yes, there were lots of stuffed animals on hats.  And adorable children in colorful hats.

20090412-easter-parade-07

And there were others who also took the “good” route.

20090412-easter-parade-08

The weather was cold and windy. That’s sort of typical.

20090412-easter-parade-09

The closer you get to St. Patricks Cathedral, the greater the crowding.

20090412-easter-parade-10

An issue in the parade that happens every sunny year is that the shadows can really play havoc with pictures.  There are four carrot hats here.  The fourth one, on the left, sort of faded into the shadows.

20090412-easter-parade-11

At this point I was in very close to St. Pat’s.  You can see it in the background of the next picture.

20090412-easter-parade-12

20090412-easter-parade-13

I still had a number of pictures to take (I’m only halfway through with this post), but this just shows that the hat-wearers really hung around outside the Church.

20090412-easter-parade-14

The next picture was a sort of traditional picture: dog with hat. In this case, the poor dog was surrounded by photographers and had put its head down and was completely unmoving. I looked at it for about 10 seconds and couldn’t figure out whether it was a real dog or a stuffed animal with a hat. Then the dog came to life and barked at someone near me. Yeah, it was a live dog. I took this picture just after it barked.

20090412-easter-parade-15

Just more pictures of the hatted few.

20090412-easter-parade-17

20090412-easter-parade-16

The next one was more imaginative than virtually all of the rest. Chia Lady.

20090412-easter-parade-18-chia-lady

Down a block from St. Pat’s, there were some more commercial attempts at costumes. There were a small contingent of people dressed in bunny costumes and handing out eggs. I don’t know their reason for it, but I got the feeling that the eggs were promotional gifts. Maybe, maybe not.

20090412-easter-parade-19

But the next guy was in it for the money. He did say something about how we could put money in his hat.

20090412-easter-parade-20

Others seemed just to be heading up to the main crowd at St. Pat’s when all of us with cameras slowed them down.

20090412-easter-parade-21

20090412-easter-parade-22

And when you pose with a costume character while 20 people are taking your picture…well, your picture ends up in places like this.

20090412-easter-parade-231

Sometimes it was more difficult to tell the store-bought silly hats from the let’s-make-it-at-home silly hats. I hope this was just a family project as these 3 or 4 were amongst the most colorful of the day.

20090412-easter-parade-24

Just as I was leaving the area, a bunch of people showed up and started to pose for us.

20090412-easter-parade-251

And my last picture of the day. Once again, the shadows made picture-taking difficult for amatuers like me.

20090412-easter-parade-26

Okay, all in all it was a little disappointing. A lot of that is because I was there until about 11:30am and there was still a lot of time left for the truly interesting ones to show up. But, this timing was pretty typical of my other trips so I don’t think that’s it. It was a lot colder than the last year or so and the wind was brutal. So that may also be part of it. Maybe I’m just getting blase about the Easter Parade.

I did note one difference from my earlier attendances: men in hats. The first time or two that I came, the only men in hats were those who had latched themselves to their wives as if to say: she made me do it! This year I seem to have noticed a lot of men just wandering around in their hats. Make of it what you will.

-H