Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rainy Weekend in New York City

It is Noisy
It is Brash
It Soaked My Shoes
It Inverted My Umbrella

I Love This City

Love it or hate it, there is no place like New York City. It pulsates with energy 24 hours a day. Like Chicago, Vancouver BC, San Francisco or Toronto this is a city I employ almost any excuse to visit.

When my firm selects locations for our annual shareholder's retreat the call usually goes out to find a venue in the sun. Somewhere that we can all bask on the beach in the hours between worksessions. I always listen carefully and then suggest the complete opposite. Having lived in Hawaii for a few years I have nothing against lovely beaches. I just happen to like visiting big, multi-cultural, cities with great architecture, museums and shows.

Even when they are cold and rainy.

Having said that I should clarify I have no desire to live in cold and rainy cities. In fact, I once lived in Seattle and in just under 18 months I had an ulcer and was scheduling time with shrinks. Those almost relentless titanium colored skies induced night terrors. 

Well this weekend we took our retreat to New York City. We stayed in the lovely old Lexington Hotel. This is where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe honeymooned. We walked all over midtown (taking in Rockefeller Center and the reconstruction of St Patrick's). We enjoyed two Broadway plays (No Man's Land and Jersey Boys) complete with celebrity sightings. We ate great food (Italian, Japanese and Greek). 

First stop was the 22 acre Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center's first 14 art deco building's were constructed from 1930 to 1939. Today's completed complex includes a total of 19 commercial buildings. Rockefeller Center is home to the former RCA Building (now NBC), amazing artwork, the Rainbow Room and the Radio City Music Hall. 

Ice Skater's in Front of Paul Manship's Prometheus  

A Small Section of Josep Maria Sert's Stunning American Progress Mural

Don't miss a chance to glimpse the lobby of the former RCA Building (30 Rock). The story of the mural is pretty amazing. The Rockefeller's initially attempted to commission both Matisse and Picasso to create the lobby artwork. They felt there were no American painters at that time up to the challenge. After Matisse and Picasso both declined a third option, Diego Rivera was championed by John D. Rockefeller's wife Abby.

Rivera submitted a template for his proposed mural Man at the Crossroads. Rivera then went on to paint a mural where he added scenes from Moscow's May Day and the face of Lenin. The finished product was reviled by John D. Rockefeller.

John D. Rockefeller's son Nelson Rockefeller. who was now president of Rockefeller Center, initially had Rivera's mural papered over. Then, nine months later Rivera was paid and his mural was destroyed. At that time Sert was retained to paint the much larger mural that exists today.

Another major event was seeing the last evening performance of Harold Pinters No Man's Land at the Cort Theater. 

Lets just say that I'm sure the drama majors in the audience loved it. 

Waiting at The Stage Door of The Cort Theater

After the play we joined a small crowd at the stage door to wait for Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Billy Crudup to depart the theater. All (especially Crudup) were thoughtful enough to spend some time autographing playbills. 

Sir Patrick Stewart

Sir Ian McKellen

Billy Crudup

A Few of Tom Otterness' Life Underground NYC Subway Sculptures

When our subway train stopped for a moment I caught a glimpse of a few of Tom Oterness' bronze sculptures

Trinity Church

The first Trinity Church was built in 1696 and was destroyed by fire. The second Trinity Church stood from 1790 to 1838. The third Trinity Church (the one we see here) was completed in 1846. George Washington attended services at Trinity. Alexander Hamilton is buried in the small cemetery that surrounds it. Truly inspiring when one realizes a church has stood on this site through our nation's entire history up to and including the 9/11 holocaust. 

Today, I take some pleasure knowing that the unindicted criminals of Wall Street must walk past this humble little church each day.

Santiago Calatrava's New WTC Transit Center 
Rises Like Some Sort of Steel Dinosaur 
(Directly Across the Street from Trinity Church)

We also spent our last evening visiting the 9/11 memorial. This visit unleashed emotions I didn't know existing within my soul. Every American is a resident of NYC when it comes to this sacred ground.

One of Two Cascading Fountains
(Each Located On The Site of The Original WTC Towers) 

WTC Tower 1 Nears Completion

Au Revoir New York.

Until we meet again.

Roadboy's Travel © 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Day At The Arizona Renaissance Festival

Jousting on Horseback, Lots of Cleavage and Big Turkey Legs!

From Merriam Webster
the Renaissance : the period of European history between the 14th and 17th centuries when there was a new interest in science and in ancient art and literature especially in Italy

While the "new interest" may have been found "especially in Italy", it seems we Americans are totally fixated on the Renaissance in England. In fact, there are over 50 Renaissance festivals  / fairs held in the US annually. Some are relatively small and some are huge. Some are newcomers and others (Irwindale CA) date back over 50 years.

Here in Arizona the annual Renaissance Festival began in 1989, takes up 30 acres and is held during February and March in Gold Canyon. 

I have lived in the Copper State now for almost 20 years and, until this year, have never gone to the festival.  

Mostly because I can be such a pretentious and arrogant twit. 

I just figured it would be a magnet for the same folks who attend ComiCon's. Except (I assumed) they'd be favoring 17th century garb designed to showcase lots of cleavage.

And, indeed there was a lot of boob and a full legion of StarWars storm troopers inexplicably walking around (yes, Virginia, even in the Renaissance......?!). 

But, mostly there were lots of folks having a great time.  

The grounds are huge and you should plan to spend most of a day. There are 13 stages with rotating performances of drummers, magicians, flamethrowers, jugglers, you name it. Besides the shows and meandering performers, there are some really amazing craftsman present. This is a stupendous place to discover some really cool one-of-a-kind handcrafted items to stockpile for Christmas gifts (like hand turned magic wands and exceptional leatherwork).

Tickets may be purchased in advance at Fry's.

While the Highway crowds leave no doubt that lots of folks have the same plans as you, take heart the crowds are easily absorbed in all those acres.

Parking is free and there is a lot of pretty decent food too......

The Festival Entrance

Lots of Magic For Children

Loved the Living Tree

Mother Goose's Duck

Amazing Handicrafts

Rocking Horse on Steroids

Lady Tess 
Fashion Advisor to Nobility

The Coolest Briefcase in the World

Some Jousting

Adding Some Fire 

So even jaded Roadboy strongly advises that the Arizona Renaissance Festival is not to be missed. Take a hat, slather on sunscreen and wear comfortable shoes!

Roadboy's Travel © 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chihuly Returns to the Desert Botanical Gardens

Glass Masterworks Among the Succulents

OK folks, for those that have dawdled (or missed the first exhibition in 2009) you have until May 18, 2014 to visit Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden and view the stunning exhibition of glass art of Dale Chihuly.

My visit was on a slightly overcast day but I think that brought out some extra desert birds and butterflies!

Ahh The Butterflies!
(Click to Enlarge the Photos)

Large Chihuly Piece 

Hummingbird #1

Hummingbird #2

The Princess 

And Her Subjects

Reflections at The Sonoran Boat 

Summer Sun

White Belugas

So take a tip from Roadboy, mark a date on your calendar while there is still time. Then take a water bottle, camera, your AAA card (20% off admission) and some good sunscreen and go enjoy Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden at this very special time!

Roadboy's Travels © 2014