Where It All Began - Fall 2019 travel blog

Apple Cathedral

Apple mirage

St. Patrick's

St. Patrick's

Rockettes

Rockettes

Rockettes

Rockettes

Rockettes

Rockettes


If we were at home wearing our normal winter clothes, today's temperatures around freezing would have been no big deal .

So we layered our clothing suitable for temperate climes and headed out into mid-town Manhattan and made the best of it. We went to two cathedrals: first the Apple pavilion where even Ken learned a few new things about his Apple watch and I learned a lot. The pavilion is an architectural marvel: all the reflective surfaces inside the pavilion made it challenging to know when we were looking at the outside and when we looking into mirrors. Occasionally we spotted ourselves; then we were sure. The next cathedral was St. Patrick's, a church that has played a prominent role in the lives and deaths of prominent New Yorkers for many years. Awesome.

We headed to Rockefeller Center where the Christmas tree is up and surrounded by scaffolding so that workers can get it decorated for the grand unveiling after Thanksgiving. Below skaters were twirling on the ice; they paid $60/hour for the privilege. Inside the complex is a large mall filled with shops and restaurants. We were glad we beat the worker bees to lunch there. Many restaurants had lines out the door. The noted toy store FAO Schwartz established in 1869 was much more fun than one would predict for two geezers. A variety of magic gizmos were being demonstrated. The powder that turned into snow with the addition of a little water was impressive. Once it dries out it returns to its powdered state. We were glad to see that the musical stairs Tom Hanks danced on in the movie Big were still there to dance on. Outside we passed a group of what looked like homeless people camped on the sidewalk. They tuned out to be a group of young women hoping to get into Saturday Night Live to see Harry Styles We are so cold walking around. It's hard to imagine how they will survive four nights outside. Having young blood helps.

Radio City Music Hall was around the corner and the Christmas show knocked our socks off. Parts of the show were projected around the proscenium and required 3D glasses. It often was difficult to decide whether what we saw was live or pre-recorded. The recorded bits gave the dancers time to change from one glitzy outfit to another and the show flowed smoothly through every Christmas carol you have ever heard. At one point the dancers appeared to ride in a double decker bus and tour the city, which looked so lifelike behind them, you would swear that they really were there. The manger scene included live cows and sheep. When the wiseman arrived they had live camels. And of course the synchronized dancing the Rockettes are known for never failed to impress. At one point the line of Rockettes dressed as toy soldiers were shot by a cannon. It took over two minutes for their lineup to fall down one upon another in slow motion. An amazing move. When we booked this show, we wondered if the theater would be filled with children. But much of the audience was in their second childhood like us.

In the evening we saw a show that was a total contrast to the Rockettes extravaganza. I had read about Derren Brown's one man show and could tell how enthusiastic the reviewer was about it, but was left feeling that I didn't really know what it was all about. Anything I write here will have the same effect on you. Brown is known in the UK as the master of psychological manipulation. There on TV he has played Russian roulette live, convinced middle managers to commit armed robbery, led the nation in a seance, successfully predicted the results of the national lottery, and motivated a man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet according to the program notes. The way he read various audience members in the first half of the show was amazing and delightful, but by the end of the show I felt unease and dismay as he seemed to be able to manipulate random audience members and read their minds. He has two shows (The Push and Sacrifice) streaming on Netflix. Look for him and have an experience like you never have had before. But I would think that showing his mental feats on TV would not be nearly as awesome as seeing him work in person.

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