Quelle surprise! The sidewalks of New York
Stonehenge-like rock towers, a piece of the Berlin Wall, pop-macabre porcelain, and a line of teens anxiously waiting to get inside a clothing store to buy shorts and bathing suits.
Those were a few of the things I encountered in New York yesterday when I started my Broadway Vacay Staycay, shorthand for “I’m taking a week of vacation to commute into the city and see Broadway shows.”
While making my way in and out of the theater district I saw some interesting things (I don’t mean the scads of “Hop On Hop Off” bus tour shills or the scuzzy-looking mock Elmo characters, although there were plenty of those “interesting” individuals around).
I saw some cool things, starting with Rockefeller Plaza. Near the skating rink, there were nine tall rock figures that looked like they were swiped from Stonehenge. I had no idea what they were so I googled them and discovered they’re an art installation by Ugo Rondinone who made them from bluestone. He calls them “Human Nature.”
The rock figures are 16 to 20 feet tall and each one weighs up to 30,000 pounds. Painter Elizabeth Peyton gave them the nickname “Ugohenge” after the artist. I noticed people were hugging them. For good luck maybe? For fertility purposes? They’re on display until June 7, so if you’re around check them out.
I then happened upon something über cool — a 20-foot high piece of the Berlin Wall. This historic little treasure was tucked away in a quiet plaza on E. 53rd Street in front of Valbella restaurant (which, by the way, makes a great chocolate souffle).
So I did a google search. Turns out this portion of the Berlin Wall was sold by the former East German government to Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer, a real estate mogul who owns the plaza. He installed it there in 1990, a year after the wall’s demise.
After theater and dinner, I walked along Fifth Avenue to Grand Central Terminal to catch the train back to Connecticut. Fifth Avenue is not my neck of the woods. It’s more suited to my sister Paula who lives for all things Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton. Me, not so much. I live for the arts.
So imagine my delight when I walked past the Lladró porcelain shop and saw what looked like a small statue of Thing One from The Cat In The Hat, dressed up kinda like Lady Gaga. It was cute and also bizarre so I snapped a couple photos and did a google search.
The statue is called “The Guest” and was created by artist Gary Baseman specifically for Lladró. I had never heard of Gary Baseman before. So I went to his Facebook page, where he describes himself as having a “pop-macabre aesthetic.” Now I’m hooked. I want to see more.
Finally, I passed an ocean on Fifth Avenue. A wall of ocean that is — 179 flat-screen TVs mounted on the exterior of the Hollister storefront, projecting live video feeds of the ocean from Huntington Beach, CA. Hollister is an overpriced summer clothing store owned by Abercrombie and Fitch. But while I deplore A&F, I had to admit the ocean scene was engaging.
Outside, a large group of people — mostly teenage girls, were lined up behind a black velvet rope stanchion, waiting to get into Hollister.
I figured there must be some kind of special event going on, perhaps a guest appearance from Justin Bieber. I asked the first girl in line what was going on. With a thick French accent, she said everyone had to wait before the store would let them inside to go shopping.
This is a shopping line, I asked? You’re waiting in this long line, just to shop? Mais oui! When she arrived in New York it was the second place she wanted to visit. The first of course was Abercrombie and Fitch, the mothership.
Did mademoiselle knew about the media kerfuffle Abercrombie’s CEO Michael Jeffries had gotten himself into? Judging from the Abercrombie shopping bags she and her friends were carrying, I don’t think they cared. So I just smiled, said merci, muttered “elitist corporate b*llsh*t” under my breath and headed as fast as I could to catch the train home.
Patricia Gay photos, all rights reserved.