Monday, October 15, 2007

Only in New York

A wonderful Sunday in New York:
1. An afternoon in Washington Square Park. I've lived in this city for 15 years and crossed the park countless times and sometimes sat in the grass and read a book. But I've never really spent time just observing the motley crew of weirdos that makes this park unique. The hippie aura is alive and well in Washington Square, where one sees characters you don't see anywhere else. I live around the corner, and the kind of people you see in the park, you don't see on the street. It's as if they materialize out of the trees.
2. Blade Runner, the Final Cut at the Ziegfield. Oh, the joy of a bigass theater and a big screen. The luxury! The Ziegfield also boasts an enterprising usher that greets you with a booming, theatrical voice. Even the popcorn tastes better. Now, it is worth revisiting Blade Runner just because it is so visually stunning. I remember the first time I saw it, I was blown away by the noodle stands in perpetual night and rain, and by the floating geishas. The movie still gets the future right: dark, damp, cluttered and dirty -- it is magnificent. Ridley Scott did have a bit of an obsession with ceiling fans and window shades, and fog coming in through the slats at all times. But the set design and the whole visual concept of the movie are so unique and atmospheric and disturbing, it is gorgeous. Harrison Ford is totally wooden as Deckerd, the Blade Runner. He is more robotic than the replicants, but that may just be the point. How do you trust anyone in a world where robots are so human looking? I'm not a huge fan of science fiction but the premise of this movie is very cool. Sean Young wears huge shoulder pads and Daryl Hannah looks suitably punkish and Rutger Hauer is still very scary and Eddie Olmos wears blue contact lenses. I don't remember the original in much detail, but this cut seems much more atmospheric, the pace more stately, more ruminative. Also, there is an eye gouging a la King Lear that I don't remember from the original. Very violent but effective. And the original end, if I remember correctly, Sean and Harrison escaped into some lush green mountains that had nothing to do with the world he had just witnessed. No longer. The ending is much subtler and better now.
3. After such a wonderful time, it was time for a cocktail at the Old King Cole bar at the St. Regis. The best part was that on our way there we saw the Richard Serra sculptures being dismantled from MoMa. The huge segments of burnt orange steel were resting on trucks the length of the street and it was a miraculous find, a little New York marvel and quite Blade Runnerian in a way.
4. I had an $18 martini at the King Cole bar, that was so good, so dry, so crisp, so huge, with three fat olives (dinner) making sure I didn't just tip over from all that bracing alcohol. The King Cole is expensive. A Corona beer is $12 but then you'd be an ass to go to this bar and order a Corona. They give you generous amounts of great crunchy things to munch on. The service is charming and the martini perfect, so it's worth the money. I congratulated the bartender on his martini and he lit up. So cute. A taste of old New York (except with everybody, including us, dressed like schleppers).
Is that a good way to spend a Sunday, or what?

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