Fourth post from Alfie and me, NYC 2019

On Tuesday 7 May I set my alarm for 6.45 so that I could give Alfie a good walk in Riverside Park before I set off for one of the last days of the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

As it happens, I arrived to be one of the first in line and ended up getting the first entrance time: 11 a.m. There was a ‘no photos’ rule but there were so few stewards that everyone was taking photos, me included. And there was a lot to photograph.

When I got back to Debbie’s I took Alfie to one of his favourite places – his vet in Harlem. He trotted happily across Morningside Park and couldn’t wait to get there – he knows the way – but not for the vet!
He absolutely loves to sniff the bum of the cat that lies on the shelf there. While I booked our appointment that we must have before we return to the UK, I held on to him as he stalked the cat and he pounced a little too closely with an open mouth so I removed him just in time!
On the way back we sat on the grass in Morningside Park as he looked around happily – his favourite occupation at home.
Later, Debbie and I went to the Miller Theatre on Broadway for ‘Big Dog, Little Dog’ – a base and violin duo playing frankly weird music.
The following day, Alfie and I made our way to meet Susan at Hutch and Waldo, 247 East 8lst Street/2nd Avenue owned by a couple of Australian guys. We had met on the bus a few days earlier and had coffee and a big chat, while Alfie got lots of attention.
She then took me around her neighbourhood and showed me the fascinating now-named ‘Cherokee building’ – a former sanitarium 10 stories high with a fascinating twisted staircase and absolutely no elevator.  We then walked to a ‘park’ (with no grass?!) next to the East River. I prefer where I live – Riverside Park and the Hudson River on the West Side seems more open.
Debbie was singing with the other mostly blind chorus at a benefit for the Helen Keller Charity so I dropped her off there (she wasn’t allowed to bring her guide dog) and I walked back along the southern tip of Central Park which is beautiful and not nearly as crowded as the area around the lake. There was lovely light at that time of night and a man was fishing in the small lake.
I popped in to the Time Warner building for an event at Aveda and ended up checking out the Bluebird Restaurant (a London franchise) and then to TJ (not K) Maxx where I bought some blue suede shoes!
On the way there I came across one of the typical NYC funnels letting out steam from under the street and couldn’t resist taking a photo!
Thursday 9 May – After a nice walk in Riverside Park with Alfie I took the subway down to Battery Park City to meet Pavlina for coffee in the glass atrium. She and I had met at the Macedonian exhibition and is a film producer.
She introduced me to a free shuttle that goes around the Battery neighbourhood and I got off at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian where they had a wonderful exhibition of the paintings of Cannon that made me cry.
There was something so poignant about the way he portrayed his heritage and his poetry was particularly moving.
On the steps outside, I bumped into a lovely gang of adolescent school kids and recommended to their teacher that they visit the exhibition inside. I then went to the MTA office to renew my reduced price metro card as the one I have decided to stop working.
While Debbie and I were walking Alfie and Ellie later we bumped into a film crew (as you do) for “Pose” on Broadway.
Later, when I took Alf out for what I thought would just be a pee he dragged me back to the vet in Harlem, which, being 7 p.m., was already closed.
He was surprised and indignant that he couldn’t have access to the cat so I prised him away and walked back to Morningside Park along 112th Street where I bumped into Joanne and her husband outside their brownstone. She is an art director and her husband works with Jazz at Lincoln Centre – they were waiting for a charming jazz singer, Michael Mwenso and we all had a really good chat.
They have lived in the same house for over 20 years and I asked what it was like back in the day – after all, this is Harlem. I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it was! When they bought the house, which is worth a lot of money now, nobody wanted it so they got it really cheap but at the same time they were battling damage to their car, drug dealers, guns, gunshot and the necessity to barricade up the the living room window with 4 thicknesses of wood so they could actually use it. So a cheap house those days came with a price. Gentrification has changed all that.
The next day Alfie and I bumped into the men erecting the fences for the incoming goats in the wild area at 119th in Riverside Park for ‘Goatham’ (Gotham means goat town and is often used as another name for New York) and then into  a charming young woman and her dog that we met last year. Her dog looks very like Alfie but is apparently an English herder?
Walking along Broadway, I took Alfie in to see his favourite NYC cat in the pet food store.
In the evening, Debbie and I went to see The Artistic Diploma Chamber Music Showcase at the Juilliard, featuring works by Bach, Mozart, Shostakovich: All absolutely brilliant, as usual.
On Saturday 11 May Alfie and I took the 1 train all the way down to the end of the line – South Ferry – where tourists get hassled by people trying to sell you boat trips – I just ignore them – and caught the Staten Island Ferry (going in the bottom of the boat with the cyclists, pushchairs etc where you can see just as well and still take good pictures of the Statue of Liberty).
 I had forgotten that Alfie had never been on this ferry and was very nervous so I calmed him down during the 25 minute trip.
Rudy met us from the ferry in his pick-up truck and we went straight to a Starbucks for coffee and nibbles while we caught up with our news.
Then we walked around a lake and chatted to various other dog owners before we drove to Snug Harbour – what seems to be Alfie’s favourite place in New York because of the lush meadow grass. We walked around the Japanese gardens and the other gardens and met people celebrating their wedding.
Rudy drove me to the South end of Staten Island for us to eat in the Olde Bavarian Inn where we were served by an Irish man. There was a band there, one of the members being a friend of Rudy’s. He enjoyed the frankfurters while I enjoyed a hamburger with Alfie.
Alf and I caught the 10.30 ferry and were home by 11.30, which must be a record. Lots of people on the subway wanted to pet Alfie. He is such a good boy. On Sunday we awoke to the predicted rain. It was as cold as winter (some sort of record was broken – coldest similar day for 100 years). Alfie played in the park with a red and white collie who looked just like him. After walking Debbie down to Riverside church to see Liz sing, Alfie and I endured some more rain for another walk in the wild area soon to be completely fenced off for the goats. The rest of the day was spent tidying up my photos and sorting my blog.
Monday 13 May dawned with more rain but that didn’t put me off going to the Christopher Street subway to visit the gardens of St Lukes in the Fields, then uptown to the Rockefeller Centre to photograph the sculptures  placed there for the Frieze Art Fair, including works by Nice Cave, Joan Miro and Jose Davila.
Opposite the main Rockefeller plaza is a new building that has various installations: Paparazzi Dogs by Gillie and Marc, and some bicycles adapted as various things. I popped in there before going to Aveda to take up their invite for a free 20 minute facial.
On my return, I walked Alfie off-leash again in the wild area of Riverside. He really enjoys it. Later on, Debbie and I enjoyed the excellent Baroque violin concert at the Juilliard with a be-suited lovely woman called Keats Dieffenbach playing Leclair, Vivaldi, Reich (really unusual – Debbie loved it as it was very tonal and off the wall) Von Biber and Locatelli.
We got home to watch the season finale of ‘Bull’ – what joy.
The following day I taught Mindfulness at Natalie’s office on 57th Street at the same time as being hooked up to the Florida office so they could join in. It worked really well and I love going there.
As a thanks, Natalie took me to a French restaurant where I had ciabatta with cream cheese, smoked salmon and organic egg followed by lemon tart – delish! The table next to us had name badges around their necks and I realised one of them was a UK Gibraltarian MP (didn’t realise we had them)
After walking Alfie in the wild area, Debbie and I went to Juilliard to listen to  Lanka Petronius from Croatia playing the harp  – Pigovat, Haydn, Parish-Alvaro, Salzedo, Ravel and Smetana. What an amazingly talented girl.
On Wednesday 15th, Alfie and I went off to the shoe sale near Grand Central Station where I picked up some cheap wellies and ugg booties and Alf patiently lay and waited as I tried to find boots big enough to fit my feet. I am an 11 in American (8/9 English) – the largest size they seem to go to for women, although I have seen 12s in TJ Maxx.
At the New York Studio School on Number 8, 8th Street, Alfie and I went to see the artwork of the Masters’ students. As is usual in New York there was different cheese and biscuits on offer. We chatted to some of the lovely young artists and their families and Alfie nearly brought a sculpture down by walking around the column – thank goodness he didn’t! Because he was such a patient boy I took him to Washington Square Park for him to relax on the grass.
I finally made it to Gray’s Papaya on Broadway, said to be the best hot dog place in town. I don’t normally eat the, but it was good!
The next morning, Debbie had Gary (sax) and Marsha (flute) round to jam/practise. In the early evening Genia and I went to the Irish Arts Centre for LGBT Craig films – some of them quite raw, and the reception afterwards had crackers, cheese and fruit, that I enjoyed. The final episode (ever) of the Big Bang theory was on TV.
On Friday, Alfie and I were in Riverside  Park and bumped into Tiffany walking Corey so enjoyed a lovely long walk and a chat with her. I can’t believe how the time is flying fast and I just don’t get to spend as much time with lovely friends I have here as I would like.
In the evening, Debbie and I went to listen to jazz piano at Juilliard: Jonathan Thomas was playing Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and his own works with 3 extremely talented players.
His Cuban teacher (very handsome and sweet) was there to watch and support him. It was jazz of the highest quality that people would pay a lot of money to see in a jazz club. Because they are students it is free. Many New Yorkers don’t avail themselves of these concerts, which is a mistake – these excellent musicians could do with a bigger audience and those attending would have an amazing treat.
On Saturday 18 May Alfie woke me with an urgency so I found myself in Riverside Park at 5.15 a.m. – there was a freshness in the air, the birds were happily singing and Alfie was pleased being ‘off-leash’ to relieve himself (He would never poo on the pavement – it has to be out of the way on grass). He had his second morning walk at 8.45 a.m.
Debbie and I walked over from Broadway along 34th Street to Hudson Yards (the end of the Highline in a very busy area with a massive amount of building going on). We passed the huge copper building ‘Vessel’ described as ‘a vertical park’ because people walk up and down it – its sole purpose. It is beautiful.
We arrived at the building where the Icelandic choir who are accompanying the Bjork sell-out tour were giving an hour’s recital which was very unusual and interesting.
Alfie and I then visited the Spring Fair at St John the Divine where I bought a hat, followed by the opening of the community garden at 111th Street and Amsterdam where there was an interesting chemistry/art display and free food from the local suppliers, including the Hungarian Pastry Shop – some lovely sesame and pistachio biscuits that Alfie liked, delicious rainbow cake (A New York legend) and curry rolls with delicious coffee.
It was a full moon and Debbie and I took the dogs to Bryant Park for free Shakespeare in the Park: ‘Hamlet, Princess of Denmark’. They were distributing free blankets so I wrapped Alfie up in one. We were sitting at the front so occasionally Debbie’s dog, Ellie  (a naughty guide dog – really only someone as experienced as Debbie could handle her) barked at a particularly dramatic moment. It was interesting to watch the play against a background of NYC noise – heavy traffic, helicopters and multiple sirens. Just part of ‘summer in the city’!

Speak Your Mind