Friday, January 25, 2008

I Heart NY in the Winter

This was my first visit to NY in the winter, so let's leave the New York blogging with some final festive shots from the city.....

Rockefeller Center.... St. Pat's Cathedral..... Sak's Fifth Ave.....Philippine Consulate....Times Square.....Empire State Building from Bryant Park....

Hopefully Toronto will inspire me enough to stay online, and not disappear too long from the blogosphere again....

Speaking of "I Love NY", I dug up one of those old commercials from the 80's, does anybody else remember these?

Hilarious.... kinda corny, but genius.... that simple one-liner still rings in my head 20 years later....


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Scenes from the Other Side of the Hudson River

Driving around Jersey City reminds me of the opening segment of the Sopranos, or is it vise versa... I don't watch the Sopranos, but when I'm flipping through the channels and it's on, I usually stick around to watch the opening segment just to see the Jersey sights.... So let me share some scenes from the other side of the Hudson River....

First, let's get on the Holland Tunnel which runs under the Hudson River connecting Manhattan and New Jersey....
Here it is on the Jersey side....I didn't realized that you had to pay to use it if you were going from Jersey to Manhattan. I had gotten on on the Manhattan side, and it was free. The traffic to get on was horrible.... just imagine 6 or 7 lanes trying to merge into 2 lanes.... Needless to say I had to kick in with the city driving skills.... Luckily, I've driven in Manila.... driving in New York City is still relatively civilized though....

Why are there so many bridges around here?.... Speaking of bridges, I had to cross two bridges and ended up paying $10 just to get to Queens.... I thought at first that it was just my stupid GPS taking me through unnecessary routes, but apparently there was no other way to get there.... d'oh! wrong way, this is headed back to Manhattan....On the way to my cousin's house in Bloomfield, you'll pass by.....that's Pizzaland from the Sopranos' opening segment....

Anyways, after lunch with the cousins, I asked to take a walk to see the New York skyline.... So here it is, from across the Hudson River....

Still can't imagine how the WTC could be gone.... I remember growing up, we would take turns with my cousins Jing and Teng visiting each other over the summer.... alternating between Toronto and Jersey.... I remember how I dreaded those long drives to New Jersey.... it was always the site of those twin towers off in the distance, through the car window, that told me that the long drive was almost over.... it meant that the dream of finally being able to stretch my butt and legs, would soon be realized.... and we'd soon be hanging out with the cousins too...

Driving to Jersey again in 2002 was a bit disorienting.... my childhood landmark/beacon of butt and leg stretching was gone.... it didn't really look like New York City, and it felt like a part of my childhood was missing somehow?.... anyways, I came across a "Poetry In Motion" that I thought was appropriate.... doubly appropriate because it was written by a child....

Here's a 9-11 memorial.... you can imagine where the twin towers used to stand off in the distance there.....There's the Empire State Building.....And there's Lady Liberty off in the distance.... It's been a while since I last visited her too..... this time I'd like to climb up to her crown.... if we're allowed up there again....But of course, my favourite "scenery" on the other side of the Hudson River would have to be my cousins Jing....and Teng, Andrew and Paolo.... and Udz, sorry man, Jing didn't take your picture with my camera.... here he is holding some red thing at Teng's wedding back in November....Thanks for letting me crash at your place guys.... New Year's eve was a blast, especially with Te-Teng in the trunk, the homo-erotic shenanigans going on in the front, and poor ninang, Andrew, and tito pom just confused in the middle.... we must get wasted again soon, hey, it's tradition .... If you guys are actually reading this, here's that pic of Teng drinking that Indian wine two years ago.... little did we know! Cheers!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Three and a Half Hours at the MoMA

I'm not much of an art appreciator. I mean I like looking at purdy pictures as much as the next guy, but I don't understand how some people can sit in front of a painting for hours and analyze it down to it's final brush stroke.... I just like the purdy shapes and colours. Well, I figured you can't go to New York City without delving into a little bit of cultural enrichment. I mean this city is packed with museums, galleries, theatres, etc. I'm more partial to the Museum of Natural History myself, but I thought I'd expand my horizons. I've always thought I'd like to visit the Museum of Modern Art one day, so when Sunshine and PI invited me to hang out with them at the MoMA, I said fo' shizzle. More so to hang out with my former neighbours at Cathedral Heights than to see the purdy pictures, we hadn't had a reunion like that in 7 or 8 years? The other plus side was that my favourite painting.... if I actually had one..... lives in the MoMA.... The Starry Night by Vincent Van Goh, I probably consider it my favourite in part due to the song "Vincent"...

Anyways, I ended up over an hour late because, once again I underestimated the size of this city and once again, I got lost on the very complicated subway system.... I'm used to the downright remedial version of a subway system which we have in Toronto....contrast that to the PhD version of a subway system which they have in New York.... needless to say I was lost in the tangled web they've woven.... I waited too long for a train that was never actually going to come..... I realized it too late and ended up over an hour late to the MoMA, where Sunshine, PI, and SM were patiently waiting....

After a nice reunion lunch of pad thai and spicy chicken, and a generous helping of catching up, we headed for the art....We saw this poster with "KASSAMA" on it.... "KASAMA" = companion or "mag-KASAMA"= together in Tagalog, so we thought that would be a cool picture if we all gathered together beneath it.... however, you know how men don't like to ask for directions? Well, in addition to that, I hate asking strangers to take my picture, so I insisted on taking the picture myself.... unfortunately, SM was no sama on the first try.... second try was a little better.... na "SAMA" kami lahat.... even got a bonus halo above PI

Well, being in the presence of three lovely ladies, I had to put aside my quasi-chauvinism and let a stranger lady take our picture.... with excellent results..... "no man is an island" don't you know....Here's an interesting plastic plant?....I actually recognized something, or at least I recognized that this was by Gauguin.... I'm not that artistically illiterate afterall... I really don't know how I knew that though....
Paul Gauguin. (French, 1848-1903). The Moon and the Earth. 1893. Oil on burlap, 45 x 24 1/2" (114.3 x 62.2 cm).

Life imitating art....A series of heads by Pablo Picasso....I was strangely drawn to these Picassos....
Pablo Picasso. (Spanish, 1881-1973). Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm).
Pablo Picasso. (Spanish, 1881-1973). Two Nudes. Paris, late 1906. Oil on canvas, 59 5/8 x 36 5/8"; (151.3 x 93 cm)

Hmmm.... I wonder why?....

I was also drawn to these big ones by Rousseau.....

Henri Rousseau. (French, 1844-1910). The Sleeping Gypsy. 1897. Oil on canvas, 51" x 6' 7" (129.5 x 200.7 cm).

Henri Rousseau. (French, 1844-1910). The Dream. 1910. Oil on canvas, 6' 8 1/2" x 9' 9 1/2" (204.5 x 298.5 cm).

Can you see me on top of the naked lady?.... I think I like them because of their cartoon-like quality.... Tu Anh would say that's because I behave like an immature child most of the time... whatever Tu Anh, you're ugly.... (just kidding, now I'm in trouble).

Speaking of big one, check out this big ass Monet....
Claude Monet. (French, 1840-1926). Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond. c. 1920. Oil on canvas, three panels, Each 6' 6 3/4" x 13' 11 1/4" (200 x 424.8 cm), overall 6' 6 3/4" x 41' 10 3/8" (200 x 1276 cm).

So you know how truly big ass it is, here's a shot of PI trying to get it all in...

I thought this sculpture and its shadow was pretty cool....
Alexander Calder. (American, 1898-1976). Josephine Baker (III). Paris, c. 1927. Steel wire, 39 x 22 3/8 x 9 3/4" (99 x 56.6 x 24.5 cm).

This sculpture by Martin Puryear is titled "Ladder for Booker T. Washington"....
Here's SM trying to grab it while Sunshine and PI cheer her on....She really loves to get "hands on" with the art, as she holds up her favourite stained glass by Frank Lloyd Wright.... SM is a true art lover....Okay, I loved this one, I think it was called "Good water, come and get it"....Okay, but this one has got to be my most favourite masterpiece in the MoMA.....

This guy seems to like it too....
Alright, time for the piece de resistance....

Vincent van Gogh. (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Starry Night. Saint Rémy, June 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4" (73.7 x 92.1 cm).

Funny how such a masterpiece came out of a psychiatric head.... or maybe it shouldn't be so surprising?

The MoMA is filled with tonnes of interesting pieces even if you just like to look at purdy pictures.... I'm going to have to come back and explore some more when it's not so crowded.... Maybe I can actually sit for hours and study all the brush strokes....uh....probably not.....

Let me leave you with the words Sunshine was contemplating here....
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflecting Vincent's eyes of China blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hands

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you Vincent
This world was never meant for one as
beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
A silver thorn on a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will....
by Don Mclean