Saturday, December 23, 2006

[Travel] 20061210 NY

* First thing this morning is to move. The next 6 days of my accommodation is at another place. I woke up (or finally tired of trying to fall asleep in trembling condition) at around 7:30, took a shower then go.

Pulling the luggage, taking Metro and finding hostel isn't tough, but it did take some time and I did passed through certain areas looked like red-light district, and to think they are just 2 blocks away from Times square. The new hostel literally is next to the corner of 40th and 9th, and only takes 2 minutes of walking to PATH, but the owners weren't there when I rang the bell at 9:30 am. I pulled the luggage and interrupt into the Italian restaurant at the corner named "Bus Stop". The waiter, who looked like a Philippines, stared at me when I walked in with my heavy stuff and obviously didn't like what he saw. The owner, who looks like an Italian, asked me to sit at the bar. It was better as time passed by, as the owner served me coffee and I ate the whatever omelet.

I went back to the hostel at around 11am, the door opened this time by a nice lady named Carol, she let me dropped my luggage before I even check in. The hostel itself was just clean and cozy, it wasn't big but feels like a home and you got everything you need here, including satellite TV and WiFi. Plus, it's location is unbeatable.

* I went to fifth ave. before noon. The Apple store is massive, all the basement were demonstrations and free trial areas of Apple electronic devices, and were full of shopping people at Sunday morning. Staffs wore in red were standing everywhere and willing to help customers.

Nike Town, comparing to other flagship stores at fifth ave., are NOT very spectacular, despite it goes 5-story tall. The quality of 92' retro Olympic jersey is gorgeous.

* After checking in at noon (The owner is Japanese, polite and spoke English not well and a little bit scared of non-Japanese like me), I made my way to Carnegie Hall for Pierre Boulez and Co. The music hall were mostly elders with formal clothings, and I feel like an outsider trying to ruin their enjoyment again.

The music itself, what can I say? From the first note of Ravel, you can tell the difference. The brass department were just deep and you have no idea if they really have any limits. There's just meaningless to compare Chicago SO's Ravel with others - just on a totally different level. The only thing is you probably will never satisfied to hear others afterward. Boulez is a very cool conductor - his motions were small but crisp, and he was almost emotionless while hearing the applause from the crowds.

The Ligeti Piano concerto was very interesting, but made few sit well. It only required the string department and xylophone-like instrument to accompany with piano, however the sound they produced are provocative and challenging even in today. The first movement keep testing the pain threshold of audience, with extremely different notes contrast with each other. Everytime you thought you could be on the way to a more rhythmic segment, Ligeti will destroy your imagination in next section. The Piano was mostly treated just like a percussion instrument, and the pianist focused on making inharmonious, mechanic sounds.

Bartok was breathtaking, although many of the audience who wore formally next to me were fall asleep. Chicago SO and Boulez made difficult sections sound easy, and the violence and flamboyance of "The Miraculous Mandarin" brilliantly showed.

There were no encores. Cool Boulez, after 3 curtain calls, just singlehandly lead his head of string to backstage.

* I decided to walk around NoHo and East Village before the 8pm Blue Man Show. There were many clothing shops at NoHo, also stallmen selling personalized TShirts. UNIQLO, brand from Japan, recently opened their flagship store in USA here, and it were packed of people, especially Asians, in the Sunday afternoon, including me. As one can see in the photo, the roof is sky-high to load up all the clothings, also create an aspiring view.

* I visited several leading underground record stores in the East Village before finding meals. The Other Music is smaller than I imagined, and like other alternative record shops, hand-written notes and separators are many. The staffs are really cool and didn't like to spend much time on obvious tourists like me.

Kim's Video is larger, they have some rare video selections, plus you can hear many new tracks through their public server.

* Blue Man Show is fine, it's funny, outrageous and play lots of visual tricks on you. For those who didn't experience it, it's worth a try, but it will be better if you can get a closer seat (the first 5 row), which will cost like 85 USD. If I were able to make decision again, I probably will skip this one out. For 85 USD you probably can enjoy other entertainments in NYC for several times.

* I didn't know what I was thinking, but I just decided to walk my way back to the hostel after the show. It's easy to walk on Manhattan without a map, you just need to follow the main avenues and check the east or west direction from the streets. Or, just look up on those sky-scrapping, shining buildings! Chrysler Building at night is just brilliant, which is also one the reasons I decided to walk, as I was trying to find the best angle for photography. I also went past New York Public Library and Bryant Park at 42nd, too bad I couldn't find time to visit those 2 during my time there.

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