Saturday, August 18, 2012

Museum of Modern Art, Gore Vidal's The Best Man and Stranger-Friends - July 28

Although it has been hot throughout my stay in New York, it as also been raining. I carry my umbrella everywhere I go. Today I decide to visit the Museum of Modern Art and attend another Broadway play.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa),unlike the Metropolitan Museum, has an absolute admission price of $25.

When it comes to art I'm not very knowledgeable. When I was in grade eight there weren't enough desks in the art room for all of us, they were two short. Rather than finding other desks, which would have been the proper solution, administration invited students to apply to not attend art class. I won the prize. I could spend the time fellow classmates were in art class in the library, using the time as a study period. Thus ended any study of art I might have had.

MoMa's most intriguing piece
As little as I know about art, I can recognize Monet, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, Francisco Goitia and Frida Khalo. And I know Washington Crossing the Delaware when I see it, although I have no idea the one in the gallery is a fake until I read the information. Oh, by the way, I do see artwork by Monte, Picasso and Andy Warhol, but not Georgia O'Keefe, Francisco Goita or Frida Khalo.

The most intriguing piece of art appears to be by Lee Bontecou, who created it in 1961. It is made, in part, from a discarded laundry conveyor belt that she found below her East Village apartment.

I watch as others, like me, walk up to the piece and allow themselves to be lured into what feels like a never ending well leading to nowhere.

After visiting MoMa I find my way back to my least favorite place, Times Square. I plan to attend another Broadway Play.

The line-up at TKTS is very long, and while we stand in line the rain begins to come down in buckets. Fortunately there is no wind and my umbrella provides protection.

Two men are standing behind me. I offer the services of half my umbrella. The shorter man takes me up on my offer. The taller man stands in the rain. After a short time he is wet to the bone and wonders why he is standing in the rain because he can go somewhere that is dry and let his partner buy the tickets. The Olive Garden is across the street and we all have the same plan. After ticket purchases that's where we are going.

Someone assumes my umbrella partner and I are together. That is when I came up with a new word, stranger-friend. I have met many stranger-friends in my lifetime. People who are significant for a blip in time and then I never see them again. It is my turn to purchase a ticket. My stranger-friend and I part company, lucky for him there is now room under the overhang. He keeps dry.

I buy a ticket to Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. The main reason for my choice of this play is because Elizabeth Ashley is one of the stars. She has always interested me, and she has always thought of herself as a Broadway actress first and foremost.

After my purchase, I make my way to the very crowded Olive Garden and may need to wait for a very long time for a table. Then I meet another stranger-friend. We decide we will sit together if it means getting a table sooner. Wow! We really luck out.

A party of two obviously tired of waiting and left their pager. The maƮtre d' tells us if we will be a party of two we can have the pager. Likely we will have a table in about ten minutes.

At first my dinner partner spends her time texting her friend and when our dinner comes, she's ordered a wide variety of meals planning to take food home, she is busy photographing food and sending the photographs to her friend. I assume her friend didn't have the money to accompany my stranger-friend to Fella, the afternoon performance she has just finished attending.

I, without a cell phone, am interested in observing her. When she is ready she warms up to me and begins to talk.  I learn she is originally from Haiti, lives in Brooklyn, works as an assistant manager at Payless and has another part-time job.

When we are ready to leave and part company, she asks me to take a photograph of her. I do, and suggest, in fact I slightly urge that she also take a photograph of her stranger-friend. She takes a photo of the two of us. Now, she is ready to be totally open and tells me she has never heard the word stranger-friend before. "That's because I invented it," I tell her.

She says she has very much enjoyed talking to me. Actually, one of the rules of being a stranger-friend is to always be sensitive to the other person, give them their space and speak only when it appears to be the right thing to do. I don't tell her any of this. However, I know she is sincere. In the end my congenial company was better than eating alone, or texting.

She's on her way home and I'm on my way to the play.

At the play I sit beside a man who decides to be a stranger-friend. We discuss why we have chosen this play and remark on the large number of well-known actors in the cast. There is James Earl Jones, a veteran of Broadway, Elizabeth Ashley, Night Court's John Larroquette, and well-known film and television star Cybil Shepard in her first Broadway appearance. Unfortunately a stellar cast does not necessarily equate to stellar performances. The play lacks depth and falls flat.

It is the end of another busy day in my visit to New York City. It is back to Jane Darling's Bed and Breakfast.

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