Monday, January 31, 2011
Best Laid Plans
I live in one of the most exciting, fast paced cities in the country - in the world. Arts, culture, history, New York has it all. And yet, I can sometimes lose sight of that in the daily grind, traversing the same tired blocks between work and home, home and work. And it's worse in the slush and grime of winter; It doesn't exactly encourage one to take in the sights. But (amazingly!) I'm coming up on two years here, and have yet to see some quintessential New York neighborhoods and must-see attractions. So I've made a new goal for 2011: I'm going to get out and see my city.
In the spirit of this resolution, Aidan and I journeyed to the Upper East Side this past weekend to visit the Whitney Museum. Smaller than the Met and less visually striking than the iconic Guggenheim, the Whitney nevertheless boasts an interesting and varied collection in its five galleries. The Hopper exhibit currently on display was particularly engaging, as it put his work into context by displaying it alongside his contemporaries.
We also saw "workworkworkworkwork", a bizarre yet intriguing collection of pieces by New York artist Charles Ledray (picture). Composed mostly of miniature clothing, tiny ceramics and other textiles, it wavered between absurd and thought provoking. I admit I was somewhat annoyed at first by what looked like just a single shaft of wheat in a glass case - I mean, I'm all about modern art, but really? It wasn't until I was about two inches away that I realized it was actually sculpted out of human bone. Pretty incredible to see.
The Singular Visions exhibit had some arresting pieces as well, incuding"The Wait" (which juxtaposed a decaying, skeletal woman waiting for her beloved with a live parakeet twittering and chirping to itself) and "Running People" (a piece of art installed by projecting a gel onto any surface and painting it in, therefore making the installer a co-artist of sorts). Musing on these works as we made our way out to the street, Aidan and I both agreed that there's something to be said for a smaller museum. The sense of completion you get after making it through all the galleries is very satisfying.
But it also makes one hungry.
Fortunately, we knew exactly how to fix this problem: Soom Soom falafel. We'd discovered it last summer while he visited, and were so eager to try the delicious little place again that we gladly traipsed across Central Park to get to its west side location. Normally, this would be a pleasant jaunt across gorgeous woods and sprawling meadows. However, in January, these gorgeous vistas turn into a blinding, slippery tundra studded with pint-sized sledders and their exhausted parents. Needless to say, it took a little longer than normal to slog through the drifts, but it was actually very refreshing to get some fresh air. And we knew the falafel would be worth it...
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men.
Our paced quickened as we saw the awning, both of us eagerly anticipating fried chickpeas and mint-lemonade ... and then it faltered, slowed, and screeched to a halt. Soom Soom was closed! I would like to report that the skies darkened and a dreary rain began to fall at this moment of cinematic disappointment, but the crisp sunshine refused to play along. Resigned to believe our quest was for naught, we slowly made our way towards the subway. But then, a glimmer of hope: Aidan spotted a tiny place called Sido Falafel, and we decided to give it a try (our rumbling stomachs both had a large say in this, they being not so discerning).
Wow. These are the moments that make men believe in fate.
It was delicious - dare I say, better than Soom Soom - and the staff was super friendly to boot. We both downed way too many of the scrumptious fried bites, and left heartily satisfied with our find. Trying new things was working out pretty well for us, we agreed. But that didn't stop us from visiting another old favorite, Levain Bakery. When a place sells cookies the size of your face, it's almost automatically worth a repeat visit. And sometimes, rediscovering the old is just as important as discovering the new.