Monday, December 19, 2011

New York City Part III: The Highline, The Daily Show, and Inverted Umbrellas

On Wednesday, the rain that had started lightly misting Tuesday evening began in ernest. Rain or no rain, lingering cold be dammed, my plan was to go running on the Highline, so off I went.

Wow. Wow! I'd read about the Highline, and thought it sounded neat, an urban rail trail park, winding it's way through Manhattan, but the reality is much better than anything I had fantasized about. I ran the entire thing; it's not very long. It starts in Chelsea, near the corner of Ganstrovoot Street and Washington. Following the old elevated train tracks, it winds along, approximately following 10th Avenue, ending somewhere around 29th street. There are plans to extend it further, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that evolves. But in the meantime the part that is finished is very, very nice. A wooden path meandered through plantings of wild flowers and other native plants. Here and there small trees and benches dot the path. Occasionally the old tracks wander straight through an old building (perhaps a former station?) providing shade, and shelter from the rain, and apparently in the summer a venue for concerts, food carts, and other shopping venders.

I enjoyed my run thoroughly. It's too bad dogs are not allowed on the Highline, but I do understand why. It's just not very big and bouncing labs and frisky poodles could easily overwhelm the space.

By 2 o'clock it was time to begin my quest for getting us into the Daily Show. I had decided that this visit to New York we should try something different. Why not see what it's like to go to a tv show instead of a play for a change? I don't watch that much tv; in fact I don't think I've ever actually watched the Daily show in its entirety, just clips played on Morning Joe, and occassional postings on YouTube or Facebook. But Jon Stewart is clever and funny, and his politics jive with mine, so why not?

I reserved our tickets online, and then read the instructions. Just because you have a ticket doesn't mean you'll necessarily get into the show, cause they overbook. So they tell you to be there at 2 pm, to get a ticket NUMBER, and then come back at 4:30 to pick up your ticket and see the show.

I also read a few blogs about the experience of getting tickets, and found out that just because you are first in line it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the best seats. They put you wherever they want in the audience, using some mysterious formula of looks age and number of people that want to sit together. So I wanted to get there on time, but not real early or real late.

I arrived at the studio around 2:15 and there was already a long line. It was beginning to rain harder, but fortunately there was an awning to stand underneath. I ended up with tickets number 101 and 102. But now I had to meet Lee somewhere and kill some time until 4:30. We ended up hanging out in a bar across the street from the studio, a very New City City feeling thing to do.

Eventually we got back in line, went through the very extensive security that involved removal of anything metal, including jewelry, and were ushered to what turned out to be two VERY nice seats, right on the aisle, about 4 rows from the front. We could see around the cameras just fine.

We had to sit there waiting for about 30 minutes, as the music got progressively louder. Eventually the comedian that was supposed to warm us up came out. He was very funny, but I found it difficult to get very excited about practicing yelling and clapping as loud as we could. I did appreciate that he explained that our screaming was necessary to the success of the show, but I still resisted. It's one thing to yell at a basketball game...

Anyway, Stewart, when he finally came out was charming and funny and very polished. I was really impressed by his professionalism; his ability to spit out his little segments without a single stumble or gaffe. We even got to see them do the taping for the international edition, and to retake a few things that they wanted to alter slightly. I really enjoyed that part; watching the inner workings of a tv show.

Oh, by the way, the guest was Ralph Fienes.

Before we knew it the show was over, and we were back out on the street, in what was quickly turning into a howling storm. Fortunately the restaurant where we were meeting friends was only a couple of blocks away. Lasilhouette is a modern French restaurant. The food was delicious. I had the fillet and spare ribs, and an outrageous profiterole for dessert. It was more like a giant profiterole sundae, not that I'm complaining, mind you!

After dinner we were able to quickly grab a taxi back to Christopher street. The wind had picked up and the rain was coming down harder, but Harper needed to go potty, so out we went, one more time.

By this time the wind was blowing at a gale force velocity. My umbrella blew inside out and flew away, just like in a cartoon. In fact, umbrellas were blowing all over the place, as party-goers, and sodden dog-walkers scurried along the streets. Harper bravely trotted on, and I doggedly made my way toward the Hudson River Park, where there was enough grass to encourage my country dog to do her business. By the time we got there the rain felt like little needles and the wind was blowing sideways. Fortunately, Harper found an accommodating bush and we made our way home, wet and sleepy. It had been quite a day!

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