Monday, September 30, 2013

What I Saw: The New York Renaissance Faire

We headed north to the Bronx and met up with a group of friends to attend this year's New York Renaissance Faire. The festival, er, I mean the Faire happens in the park right next to The Cloisters. The setting is perfect and with the picture perfect weather the place was completely packed with people. I really loved the people who went all out for the event. It's awesome to see someone who clearly put a lot of time and thought into their outfit, isn't it?
Cell phones and wenches - weeeeird.
This guy was my favorite.
I found him again later in the day with a whole band of fur covered warriors.
Walking around the festival was admittedly pretty challenging. Thankfully our group grabbed a spot in the shade and set up camp with several picnic blankets and snacks. People could wander off and come back at their leisure. If you ever attend this event with a large group of people I recommend creating a home base. I think it made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
As with any festival, there are a ton of vendors selling crafts, costumes and of course food and mead. My favorite was the chiropractor who had brought along some gnarly looking surgical instruments and leeches. The leeches were actually procured through a medical supply company as they are still used today to promote healing in skin grafts.
The event is very family friendly and included things like a Punch and Judy puppet show, musical performances, Shakespeare (of course!) and jousting. The arena for the jousting was pretty large but it was impossible to get a seat. I have a feeling there are some people who set up camp in the bleachers and stay there the entire day. It was surreal to hear the clanging of swords and to catch the occasional glimpse of a knight galloping by on his horse in a full suit of armor. Pretty charming and an entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

What I Saw: The Global Citizens Festival at Central Park

Jon and I headed to Central Park on Saturday for the Global Citizen Festival. We joined nearly 60,000 other people on the Great Lawn to see live performances from Alicia Keys, John Mayer (meh) and *STEVIE WONDER*. Janelle Monae also gave a quick performance, one song on her own earlier in the evening and then another with Stevie Wonder. I nearly died. I love that woman!
So, obviously going to a show with a berjillion other people will prove to be a challenge. There's no way you are going to get close enough to see the people on stage. Space is a limited commodity and things like food and water will run out quickly.
It was the strangest thing to watch the show on the monitors because it felt like I was watching television but the musical accompaniment was obviously live. However, none of that really mattered once Stevie Wonder came on. Seriously, this man is amazing. 
Maxwell came out at one point and he totally had a fan-boy moment, declaring "I can't even sing. I can't believe this is happening right now!" Jon and I danced and sang along, smiling at each other while having our own "I can't believe this is happening right now" moment.

The show was free to all who signed up with Global Citizen. This organization is working to bring a collective effort towards ending extreme poverty in the world. This is done by harnessing online connectivity and action through articles, links to petitions and NGOs and also facilitating online donations to these organizations.

You can read more about the festival here and here. You can sign up with Global Citizen here and if you're interested, the footage from the concert is here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 39

Jon and I headed to Central Park for a free concert. The place was packed but we managed to find a bit of green to stake out a spot. More on that concert soon.

Jon and I are taking a portrait a week for a year. You can view our entire set of portraits here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week 38

On the last day of my in-laws' visit we spent the afternoon at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On the way out we came across a treehouse that had been built from salvaged trees that had been felled during Sandy.

Jon and I are taking a portrait a week for a year. You can view our entire set of portraits here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What I Saw: Fête Paradiso

Jon's parents were in town this past week and it was wonderful to share some of our favorite parts of the city with them. Earlier during their visit we made sure to take them to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and to Highline Park. Saturday afternoon we planned a trip to Governors Island to attend Fête Paradiso. Fête Paradiso is the world's first traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels, all dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. These rides have been painstakingly restored to working order and will be on Governors Island through the month of September.

The weather was cool and clear and the free ferry from lower Manhattan took only a few minutes to get us to our destination. Once we stepped onto Governors Island and into the carnival we were transported back in time.
It's free to attend the carnival but it costs only a few dollars to get on the rides. A free ferry can be caught either in Manhattan at the Battery Maritime Building or at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. You can also pay $4 to take the East River Ferry which is a trip I wholeheartedly recommend.

I waited all summer to get to Fête Paradiso and I wish I had come sooner. I'm thankful that we had the chance to attend before summer is officially over.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 37

Jon's parents were in town this weekend and we made sure to make it out to Governors Island to catch Fete Paradiso before it leaves at the end of the month. Beautifully restored, these nearly 200 year old French carnival rides are in good working order. Stepping on to the grounds you feel transported back in time.

Jon and I are taking a portrait a week for a year. You can view our entire set of portraits here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pippin on Broadway

This weekend Jon and I met up with our friend Bobby at the TKTS box office and scored some great seats at half price for Pippin, one of my favorite musicals of all time.

I am not ashamed to admit that growing up I was a big old theater nerd. In middle school a friend encouraged me to audition for a show at the local community theater and amazingly I was cast as Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. After that I was totally hooked and threw myself into the theater. The same friend lent me videos of the original production of Pippin. I must have watched it four times. It was funny, dark and a brilliant production. To finally see a production of this musical in person was seriously a dream come true.

I normally hate going to Times Square but if you get there in the morning on the weekend the crowds are manageable. We all wondered why people would ever pay full price for a show when you can get tickets at half price through TKTS. I recommend going to them if you ever want to see a show. It's best to be flexible in terms of the times that you'd like to go and where you will be sitting but the box office attendant will work with you to find something that you will like. I also recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid the lines. Once you have your tickets you can take a short walk to Hell's Kitchen, grab some brunch and then head to your show.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What I Saw: Wave Hill

I had the day off from work and had made plans with my friend Ellen to take a trip to Wave Hill. Wave Hill is located way up in the Bronx, further north in New York City than either of us had ever been. It is a 28 acre garden overlooking the Hudson River and it still blows my mind that this place exists within the city limits. We took the 1 Train to the very end of the line at 242nd street. There is a shuttle that is there at 10 minutes past the hour to take you to the gardens but we decided that we would walk instead of wait. I'm so glad that we did.
The walk was really pleasant and a nice surprise. We walked along roads like this and felt like we had been plopped in the middle of a very well cared for suburban neighborhood. The houses (HOUSES - not apartment buildings) were enormous and beautiful and the lawns and landscaping were impeccably maintained. Can I just remind you that this is still considered New York City? Crazy.

We arrived to Wave Hill after that lovely walk and started out on the trails on the outer edge of the gardens. It was such a relief to be surrounded by trees and greenery.
And Ellen found the first sign of Fall.
And then there were the grounds and gardens themselves. It really took my breath away.
The entire place reminded of the sanitoriums that were popular in the Victorian era for people to convalesce. Remember the movie The Road to Wellville? Yeah, just like that minus the rigid eating habits and medical treatments and general weirdness.

I would have never known about Wave Hill had it not been for my friend Ellen. Being there made me feel incredibly lucky to live in a city that contains places like these that are available with a simple train ride. Thank you Ellen for another great city adventure!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Last Days of Summer

Admittedly the list for this summer was ambitious and not every single thing was accomplished. With that in mind I set out to have a beach date over the holiday weekend. I grabbed some friends, loaded up the car and drove to Jacob Riis Park in the Far Rockaways. The weather had been predicting thunderstorms on and off all afternoon but we decided to head out anyhow and it turned out to be the perfect beach afternoon.
When we arrived the parking lot was nearly empty and the beach was wide open. We set up our blankets and towels and eventually the sun came out from behind the clouds and we spent the remainder of the afternoon talking, running into the ocean to cool off and generally enjoying each others company. 
Before we left my girlfriend and I decided to go for one last swim. The tide was coming in so the waves were much bigger than earlier in the day. We swam out, jumping with the waves and had a great time. As we started to come back in we both got completely slammed by the ocean. I went down twice and both times felt my bathing suit bottom nearly slip off. My friend had similar issues but with the top half of her bathing suit. Thankfully neither of us suffered any public embarrassment but we did get a whole lot of sand stuck up in our bathing suits. Oy. My friend said that we literally got kicked out of the ocean. It seemed like a good time to head back home.