Thursday, February 12, 2009


1008 days ago

FRIDAY We (Richard and Lucia, my Montréal friends) left by car around 5:30a.m. Montréal and got to New York, via Washington Bridge/Harlem around 11. Stopped at the Belleclaire in Central Park West at 11:30, where my friends were supposed to be, but their impatience chased them out of the hotel already by that time – I was supposed to call by 11, I showed up at 11:30. Kind of disappointing, as my main purpose this week-end in Big Apple was to see my super-friend from Romania – Ioana. We have known each other, with ups and downs, for 12 years now.

Anyway, we headed down to the 57th East, where we were generously hosted by a friend from Spain who rented an apartment for a week, being there for an environmental international conference. Meeting him was another highlight of my trip as Europe is not quite next door.

The apartment smelled like mould a little and it was kind of dark and noisy. Very nicely furnished and spacious though, in the heart of Midtown. We communicated with K., our host, via SMS and decided we’ll meet in the evening. Meanwhile I had to see another friend, who writes beautiful poems and lives in Atlantic City. He basically came for the day so we can spend some time together. So we did. After walking with Richard and Lucia to Empire State Building I headed back to Central Station. After a few talks on the phone, as miscommunication made us wait at 2 different spots, I managed to meet Terrence!

Then it was the nice part – walking through Central Park up to the 89th, where the Guggenheim is. Flowers everywhere, many shades of purple, and just like Bambi (who remembers the Disney classics?) or the little bull Ferdinand I would stop at each and everyone and deeply inspire their sweet fragrance. I have a weakness for wisteria, with their amazingly rich grapes of flowers. Being a Montréaler now, who has to wait indefinitely for spring and long for leaves and flowers I am mesmerized when nature is blooming. Plus, Central Park is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, quite wild, with hills and lakes, and swans and ducks, small kitsch (nice looking castles. In May – it’s a poem.

Guggenheim didn’t have a exhibition to match my taste, but the architecture, creation of world famous Frank Lloyd Wright is amazing. The gallery rounds up to the dome in a spiral, with objects exposed around it and a few back rooms. Like climbing inside of a white, luminous shell. My beloved contemporary Italian Francesco Clemente was not there, although the paintings on the Internet are said to be part of the collection.

I finally got hold of my friend Ioana at the hotel, after a few unsuccessful calls, and decided we’ll pick them up and join K. at the apartment for dinner. Well, New York is much bigger than its maps show. So after a day march we made it at the apartment around 9. I felt so bad because I made all these innocent people run so I can have everyone around me at the same time. Like K. most righteously observed, this circle of friends made sense only to me, not to them.

Dinner was good, somewhere down on the 2nd Street, in an average Italian restaurant. At least we sat outside. Terrence had to leave right afterwards to reach his hotel all the way South, close to the Port. It was great meeting him, he’s kind of opposite to me, very calm, low key voice, and I’m so agitated it feels good to be around tranquil people. He’s also sensitive, this allowing him a deep perception of the world. We exchanged a lot those few hours, but I wish there was more time and less rush.

The four of us left (Richard and Lucia went to a Mozart concert) had a drink for Mexico’s national day – 5 de Mayo. Our Margarita’s were not that great, but we took some photos with “sombreros” that will make a great souvenir.

SATURDAY In the morning – actually around noon, we (Lucia, Richard, Ioana and her hubby Alex) got to the Cloisters, pieces of ruined abbeys and churches in Spain and France that were transported and restored stone by stone in a medieval museum complex, north of Fort Tyron park, which has amazing views over the Houston river and its opposite side green cliff.

I am very fond of cloisters in general, since I traveled to Portugal and Italy. Inside quiet gardens, surrounded by gracious Romanic or Gothic colonnade galleries. These ones were covered by flowers and all type of plants monks used for medical and aesthetic purposes. Plants you would find in the background of tapestries also. I understood later that the function of those was not only decorative, but also practical, to protect the inhabitants of imposing stone castles from the cold coming from the walls. And some plants that fill them had a spiritual meaning (Our Lady’s Mantle, pomegranate tree). I really loved the Unicorn Hunt tapestries I saw there, ad they reminded me of those I saw in Paris, at Cluny, amongst the most refined and beautiful in the world: La Dame à la Licorne.

So I left the Cloisters quite reluctantly and went down to the MET (famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I saw last December, obviously not completely). There I was supposed to meet Lucia and Richard, who went earlier to the Austrian and German Art Museum – Neue Galerie. To my regret I found out only later it hosts paintings by Klimt, Schiele (whose reproductions adorn my bedroom) and Kokoschka. Ioana and Alex headed to the Guggenheim. I tried to call everyone; K. said he’ll wait for me at the apartment, Lucia had her cell turned off, Michael, my jazz musician adoptive New-Yorker friend too. So I didn’t wait for more than 10 minutes for Richard and Lucia and left shamelessly, waited long for the bus, got to the apartment and, after an hour preparation, around 6 me and K were ready to go for a stroll around the City Hall. I discovered to my delight the neo-Gothic Woolworth skyscraper, which was built in 1929, I guess. Mosaic golden vaults in the entrance atrium, and gargoyles showing the architect with the building model and Mr. Woolworth himself counting money It was forbidden going in, I half ignored it as I went past the first door and stuck my nose against the window of the second. Same thing with the Court, no access allowed on the stairs, I only climbed them to peer inside looking for the glasswork of Tiffany, unsuccessfully.

Next stop was China Town for dinner – fish with bitter melon for me and lacquered duck for K. Tasty and quick to come. Yum!

Then we met Richard and Lucia, we mixed up again the meeting point with Ioana and Alex, and we all went to the Brooklyn Museum, which is free of charge every first Saturday of the month and open until 11p.m. As usual now, the main purpose was to meet also Michael, the jazz composer and bass player. Very briefly, as he decided to run home and come back upon closing time. The museum was interesting; I only looked briefly at the Art of the Americas section (many artifacts from Canada nativesJ

There was a big party in an exhibition room, close to Corot and other masters’ paintings. Techno music. Being tired, we dropped it and just went for a tour of the 5th floor exposing American art related to the US identity. Preceded by a large hall filled with Rodin sculptures. Everybody was exhausted, but upon Michael's advice we still went looking for a bar in the West Village, around Cristopher Street. Ended up in a lounge: Sushi Samba, that looked very fashionable. Loud electro music again, I had a decent Mojito, but I couldn't find the lychees they were supposed to add. We left about 2AM I guess, as I managed to turn off the light at 3.

SUNDAY - Not much to say. I woke up at 9, full of energy, but I waited until everyone else started moving (K, Lucia and Richard). Called Ioana at the hotel, my cousin in Queens, we managed to meet around 12, then Lucia, Richard, me and cousin Nick went to look for the car and joined the others for brunch on a sunny terrace, on the 2nd street with 77th, at Lenny's. In felt so sorry I had to leave, felt perfectly happy there, hardly discovering a shimmering Big Apple under a generous sun, all adorned by spring. I had the same horrible sensation that I used to have leaving Italy or Paris to come back to Romania. As if I was losing a part of me. I almost bursted into tears. Still managed to have a very deep intimate talk with my friend K, who's flying tomorrow back to Barcelona. Like in "Casablanca", quoted in "Black Cat, White Cat" by Kusturica: "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".

I liked New York much more this time, like I'm so eager to go there again. I didn't do many things I wanted to: jazz concert, off Broadway theater, Greenwich village, Asian section of the many reasons to go back

The landscapes of the Adirondacks mountains' park on the way back were simply gorgeous. I still felt bad Monday. A stranger more than ever. Like there's nothing left to discover here.

Now I went back to normal. For a while. Normal Anto is not normal.

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