I forgot to mention that the day we searched out Jennifer Cafe and found the juiciest carnitas tacos in lower Manhattan, Abe's friend was part of or supposedly doing sound for a show that night in one of the nearby theatres called Offensive Women. It was basically 4 women doing some great comedy routines, some of them well acted and one very awkwardly raunchy (or just plain disgusting) caricature of a... redneck. A very rough one.
My continuing journey through the Big Apple would not have been what it was without Kim, Vi's older sister and good friend of my cousin Joanne. Having worked for the TV studios out here in New York, she made the perfect guide to her cousin My Linh and I, picking out some of the best places to eat and taking us to various famous stops around the city. Some notably delicious places are Roxy's Delicatessen, serving amazingly smooth and creamy cheesecakes (try the pumpkin one!) and Alice's Tea Cup, which does an amazing afternoon tea consisting of delectable sandwiches, your choice of fluffy scone (again, try the pumpkin!) and a comforting hot pot of any one of their flavorful teas, the choices numbering well over 100.
Walking from one stop to the next, Kim and My Linh talk about seeing a Broadway show. I mention to them that Avenue Q was a really good one, having seen it in London, and they agree to check it out. Arriving at the Avenue Q doors, we find that it is, for some reason, closed for the night. What other options are there? How about the one called In The Heights, nominated for a Tony Best Musical? On the way, I learn from Kim that they are going to try getting rush tickets (a lottery done 2 hours before the show, usually raffling off the unsold tickets), and I hurredly mention that we'll have to depend on their luck because mine is usually not good enough for these things. Passing the 50% off Broadway ticket booth, we note that if we didn't succeed with rush, we can always come back and grab some tickets for half off the price. We get to the Richard Rodgers Theatre for In The Heights and put our name in the raffle bucket, waiting for the guy to step out and start the raffle.
22 tickets available. Max tickets per picked person is 2. The guy stands up high, and rolls his hand around the bucket, looking for lucky son of a bitch #1.
Bucket guy: "And the first one is... Christopher Lim."
Kim: "Dude, Chris, he said your name."
Bucket guy: "Hey, is there a Christopher Lim here? Anybody??"
Me: "Oh. OH! Oh shit! HEY OVER HERE!"
And that was pretty much how I won two rush tickets to In The Heights. They cost $26.50 each, and it turns out the rush/unsold tickets are usually the front row Orchestra ones. So two tickets to FRONT ROW Broadway.
Holy fucking awesome, Batman.
I suggested to Kim that since I've already seen a show in London, they could take the tickets and I'd just find something to eat and head back. Kim mentioned that she had some errands to do, and to just see the show and watch after her cousin. Alright, sounds good to me, let's check this out!
A great, great cast, brilliant singers and excellent dance routines that fill the stage with life. Lin-Manuel Miranda as Usnavi is brilliant, spitting out words in a rap and flowing it into a song moments later. The cast's singing is sublime, Carla's especially, hitting all the notes beautifully, my eardrums soaking in all the magnificence. Comedy, love, tragedy, it's all in there, spilled out in a torrent of motion and dance, chorus and refrain.
For $26.50 *dingggg*
A few days later, I once again meet up with Kim at the corner of Bryant Park, at about 6 am. Why so early you ask? Well, Kim's connections through the TV industry bring us to Good Morning America's summer concert series, and a free concert is being held in the park. She also has some kind of pull so she gets us into the VIP line and we head to the front of the stage.
YAAAaaaieeah! For some reason I always hear Lil Jon when I see Usher. OOKAAAaaaayyy!
One thing I learned from listening to the music at this concert is how much I love the acoustic instruments used. With a full band, the music had such presence, the sound very filling. I thought, "great, his album must sound just as good!" Went and downloaded it. Aaaaand....
His album SUCKS. After hearing the acoustic instruments at the concert, it felt like the music regressed into some weak rendition as his album spat half-hearted beats of synthetic piffle. Promptly deleted.
Another day found us stopping by the MoMA to see Olafur Eliasson's exhibit called "Take Your Time." Mirrors, lights, strobes, water are his paints and space is his canvas. Many of the works take entire rooms, starting with a black canvas absent of light and adding it in an interesting way.
One of the works was, once again, a completely dark room. You hear falling water, not a cascade but a light shower. Strobe lights, popping a few times a second, freeze a series of falling droplets in time. A curtain of water, it is not; floating sparkles of light, it is.
Another work, another pitch black room. Instead of drops of water, it's a fine mist falling from the ceiling. A spotlight shines obliquely through this curtain of mist to create an indoor rainbow.
One work even used a color to create a monochrome effect. Two hallways in the MoMA are illuminated with a series of flourescent bulbs, all with a deep yellow tint. With such a narrow band of color, you can only see everything in shades from yellow to black.
Yes, these are some pretty cool exhibits.
Somewhere in this madness, I was left in charge of My Linh and we decided to stop by the UNIQLO during the day after heading to PS1, the other half of the MoMA to continue checking out Olafur Eliasson's exhibits. I managed to pick up two shirts and the best fitting pair of jeans I've ever owned for way cheaper than I expected. Newfound respect for this store. Too bad it's only in New York, London, Paris and Japan. After UNIQLO, we headed to Brooklyn Heights to grab a good photo of the skyline, and we have this as a result.
Patience is really useful when hunting the photo.
One of the reasons why I stayed in New York so long is beacuse of Letterman. I've always wanted to see his show live ever since I was like 12, when I used to watch his show with his Top 10s and Paul Schaeffer, who always reminded me of Arthur from The Tick. Having some guest passes for June 2nd's taping, I lept at the chance and was ready and waiting in line that afternoon. After being shuffled into the waiting room and patiently standing for a half hour while all preparations were finalized, we are finally let in to the Ed Sullvan Theatre. The set is much smaller than I anticipated! It was great to hear Paul Schaefer and his band play, and to watch Letterman do what he does best with his stars: interview.
Alas, it's too bad Paul is kind of annoying, always jumping in with some strange comment, parroting Dave's words once in a while. It felt like he'd almost interrupt the flow of the show, but Letterman always pulls it back into motion. Afterwards, I would say that, given the stars at that time (none which I really knew) and Paul being a weirdo, it just felt like I just saw the show on TV. The only part that really sticks out differently is the music hitting you in the face so much more being live, and they show funny clips of other shows during commercials.
Kim has some amazing friends. I met Marissa at Alice's Tea Cup where the two of them would go over stories about fun times in New York when Kim used to live here. My Linh and I sat mesmerized by her stories of her best friends and the things they used to do, Kirk, Chica, Rain and countless others that I forgot about. Chica is such a fun person, always with something hilarious to say about one of the stars. She will go on and on about so and so and this and that, and it's entertaining as hell to hear what she has to say about anyone and everyone! Later that night after Letterman, Kim mentioned that they were going to meet up with some friends, one guy named Rain. Who names themselves Rain?
It turns out, awesome people. Rain is the guy that wrote, filmed and put together this hilarious webisode I caught a little before my trip. The reason why I know about it is because Ryan sent it to me mostly because the main character looks like our friend Arthur but talks like Woody Allen. Check it out at www.72canal.com. What a shock it was when we walked up and it's that guy! I was totally geeking out "Holy shit you're the guy from 72nd to Canal!" A very chill guy, hilarious as fuck and owns a photography studio in the Chinatown area (hence, Canal). I really wish he could continue the web series, it was great but alas, there's no funding for any more episodes at the moment. Hopefully they can get some soon.
Speaking about photography, earlier that day, Kat and I got up early to get over to the Adorama in Manhattan, grab some strobes and pocketwizards and get down to strobing bizness. Doing my best to teach her what I could remember from my fundamentals in lighting class, we had a blast messing around with lights and taking photos of one another. I think I got a little impatient with answering lots of questions though, I know I interrupted Kat a few times. I hope I wasn't being so mean!
Here's some of the results.
I wish we had more time to geek out about the photography stuff! We just ran out of time at the end of it all =/ Booo.
Overall, I really love New York. If I could get hired with Google or find some other company that had an office in New York, I would move there, possibly into Kat and Abe's closet, and work on photography stuff on the side.
It would be beautiful.