OK, so where was I?

Oh yeah, halfway over the Brooklyn Bridge trading insults (slight overstatement for comic effect) with a cyclist….

The further we got over the bridge, the busier it got. Most pedestrians walk over from the Manhattan side, occasionally beyond the western tower, before going back. The landward part on the Manhattan side was particularly congested. Still, it was sunny and many photos were taken (repeating views taken several times in the past, but that’s not the point of course!).

Brooklyn Bridge

There are a great number of boring duties performed by NYPD officers, I’m sure. On this walk we saw at least five of them. In Brooklyn there is a building which occupies a full block which has a goodly number of NYPD vehicles parked within its curtilage. However, the fact that the sidewalk all around is protected by ‘silver stumps’, and the two cross streets are blocked off with retractable ramp/gate barriers, with pedestrian traffic prohibited, suggests it is more than a mere police station. Each corner is guarded by an officer in a small booth – the three of which we passed looked bored witless. Then there’s the Brooklyn Bridge traffic detail. Each side of the bridge there’s a cruiser with an officer sitting in it, engine running ready to roll to anything which happens on the bridge, on either carriageway. Obviously, for much of the time, something spectacularly fails to happen. More intense boredom.

Back on Manhattan soil we passed City Hall. A large group were assembled on the steps and the local media were in attendance in force. Best we could work out was a candidate for mayor of Korean extraction was holding a rally, though there seemed to be some sort of counter-demo as well. There is an outer security cordon to City Hall and a somewhat firmer inner cordon with a security checkpoint involving metal detectors. As we passed by a group of half-a-dozen or so of the candidate’s constituents were admitted past the outer cordon by the cop on duty. However, instead of proceeding to the inner gatehouse, they took it upon themselves to move a barrier and let themselves through so as to join the demo sooner. To say the cops were apoplectic about this is somewhat redundant to report. There weren’t any drawn weapons, but there was a whole load of shouting!

Along Vessey Street and we happened across the 9/11 Memorial Preview Ticket Office & Gift Shop. Now, I know this is a sensitive subject, and nothing I express here should in any way detract  from the horror of what happened that day… but. The money to pay for the memorial has to come somewhere, and in the post-2008 financial crisis world in which we live, that’s always going to be a challenge. However, it is a really fine balance between raising funds for the memorial on one hand, and descending into commercial maudlin and self-pity on the other. I’m afraid I came away with the feeling the balance has tipped a little the wrong way. As an aside, something of a hot potato over here is a decision by the TSA to relax the rules on carrying knives onto planes. Their logic has some merit; spend the time keeping things that will go bang and actually bring down a flight off aircraft rather than worrying about penknives. Alright, except, as the story of United 93 on that day revealed, it was ‘box cutters’ that the terrorists armed themselves with.


Back to the point. We headed back north on the Subway to drop bags in the room and relax for an hour before walking round to the Ambassador Theater on 49th Street. Showtime is 19:00 and we have to pick our tickets up from the Will Call booth. In order to reduce the likelihood of anything going wrong, I reckoned that going an hour in advance would be prudent. Turns out there was no line, no bureaucracy just give your name and get the tickets with a cheery “enjoy the show”.

This meant we suddenly had half an hour to kill before doors open, so we adjourned over the road to a convenient coffee shop, with a token purchase of a bottle of water, so as to sit in the warm in sight of the theatre. Actually the place was a “book cafe”, presumably with free WiFi, so all seats were taken by students with laptops looking like they were doing actual study. The upshot was we stood in the warm!

Chicago queue

A line began to form from about 18:20 and around 18:40 they started letting folk in. We joined the line and were in within a couple of minutes. The theatre is a little smaller and more intimate than I was expecting – though not nearly as small as where we saw Stomp last time.

Two things were exactly was we expected: The audience were a mix of the usual oddballs and eccentrics which make up the Great American Public (yes, we include ourselves in that sweeping slight) and secondly, the show was put on by a group of professionals who are at the absolute top of their game. I won’t go into detail, suffice to say that the story, the music, the staging, the performance and the logistics were all faultless from our humble perspective. We thoroughly enjoyed the  whole experience.

Afterwards, more out of convenience than anticipation, we went to a nearby Applebees for dinner. Unlike the theatre, our expectations were low, but like the theatre, they were fully met. Vastly overpriced average food. Back to the room via “Smiller’s” the convenience store we’ve now visited three out of four nights, at more-or-less the same time and bought more-or-less the things. I’m sure the girl who was serving recognises us now!

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