Autumn in NYC without my Alfie – 1st of 4 blogs: “Bull”, the Morgan, Opal Apples etc

It felt strange to be back in New York for 2 weeks from 15 October to 1 November without my best mate Alfie.  I decided I needed a fix of my very favourite city before winter and Alfie was very well looked after by 4 different friends. He loves to boss Jessie and Seal (Mike’s border collie girls) about.

Travelling with Alfie, we do evening flights (when he is used to not needing to pee!) but this time I took morning flights and didn’t sleep on either, but did enjoy the movies.
I found the anti-T badges very amusing, including the little dog wearing his ‘dogs against T’ message.
As soon as I arrived at Debbie’s I took her to the Hungarian Pastry Shop for coffee and cake.
Walking back, we bumped into the Palestinian comedian (and lovely man) – Mo Amer. He was sat on the steps of his trailer, one of many along Broadway for the purposes of filming. We had a good chat and he told me he was appearing at the Albert Hall the following weekend. I gave him a copy of my book. I asked if I could take a photo of him but he would only do it with a selfie (not my usual thing!) so, jet-lagged and with no make-up I had to get over myself!
When Debbie and I got back to the apartment, she put on the TV, for me to discover that the picture has gone – we had to laugh, as it took someone sighted to notice that, given that Debbie is totally blind. No need to watch TV during my trip then!
Missing Alfie, I decided to take Debbie’s guide dog, Ellie, to Riverside Park every morning. Given that Debbie had been ill before I arrived, and was below-par for my entire trip, it was good for Ellie to be able to run free in the park in the mornings, being a dog rather than a worker (she is never off-leash).
I enjoyed reconnecting with the dog-walking fraternity I have become friendly with since I first arrived with Alfie on 21 December 2015.
Every morning I walk up to Broadway to collect the free papers “A.M. New York” and “The Metro” and when I first arrive I pop into the entrance of the huge Columbia campus to make a note of all of the events going on – from the posters on each side of the entrance on Broadway.
While in Riverside Park on the first morning I noticed there was a large Columbia University race for charity. The temporary teachers at Columbia used this as an excuse to hold a protest about their pay and conditions.
“On Location Vacations” is a brilliant website/email to check out where filming is happening in NYC. Joy!
I found that they were filming Bull in Brooklyn so made my way there and ended up meeting Michael Weatherley (again) as well as Freddy Rodriguez who plays ‘Benny’. I had a great chat with both, explaining to Freddy how much we dislike their Prez in the UK. When he asked why, I responded that his behaviour goes against our values.
There was an article in the newspaper stating that of 25 burger chains in the US, only 3 had decent beef with no hormones etc. Shake Shack is one of them so I treated myself to a burger opposite the filming.
I then went over to the MOMA for the free entry Friday from 4 pm onwards and really enjoyed the Brancusi and some of the other artworks
There was a snowman in a fridge in the garden – very captivating!
Later on, while Debbie watched Doug and Valerie perform jazz at the Kitano hotel, I went round the corner to the Morgan to see the 4 exhibitions and then rejoined them later.
Entry to the Morgan is free on Friday evenings and they have a good jazz trio there.
The exhibitions were:
It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200 – A brilliant mixture of film posters, art and artefacts to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece – including some original scripts
Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice – with more than 70 drawings and related paintings
Pontormo – Miraculous Encounters. He was one of the most extraordinary painters and craftsmen of 16th Century Florence
Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawing 552D – conceptual art with inspired me much less than the previous 3!
On Saturday 20th I took Ellie for a walk to Tiffany and David’s apartment that overlooks the Cathedral of St John the Divine where the pooches – Ellie and Corey – vied with each other for the toys while we ate smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.
Around lunchtime Debbie and I heard a terrific noise and it turned out to be hundreds of skateboarders rushing up 116th Street and down Broadway.
I caught up with some of the photographers (with their skateboards) of the event on the subway as I made my way to the ‘Marco Polo’ festival in Little Italy/Chinatown where I bumped into July who I need from Dana’s group – a big city that is like a village!
The local council is called “Two Bridges Neighborhood Council” and the reference to Marco Polo is connected to the Silk Road and the trade that flourished under the Mongol Dynasty between the East and the West.
Leaving the little festival I bumped into a gorgeous Merle border collie and her 2 sweet male owners and then checked out the galleries in the lower East Side.
I love meandering around downtown as there is always so much to discover.
I was struck by Daniel Arsham’s work at the Perrotin Gallery in Orchard Street that mixes plaster and crystals – really stylish and beautiful, from cars to plaques.
Walking further up Orchard street I found a pop up shop – just for the weekend – with hundreds of apples from ‘Opal Apples’ – a lovely bunch of guys with a massive organic apple farm in Washington State. I really enjoyed munching on the crispy sweet apples and chatting to them, especially about my trip a couple of years ago now that took me to Washington State and Roslyn – where Northern Exposure was filmed.
That evening there was an ultra modern cello concert at the Julliard which I found quite challenging, followed by a walk around the Lincoln Centre – I love it there as so many grand buildings converge on the central walkways.

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