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State of Me [Oct. 17th, 2010|11:20 am]
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[music |Kate Bush: Hello Earth]

I've been too too long away from here (not long enough, do I hear?). So, what's happening?

I directed my first play-reading last Wednesday. We read Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World Louis de Berniers' play for voice (heavily under the influence of Dylan Thomas) of a few inconsequential weekend hours in the life of Earlsfield. 45 parts read by eight voices and a narrator, and it was lovely. I tried to recreate the radio play experience, so the audience brought duvets and pillows and had a nice Sunday morning cuppa while the players were scattered among them and read. Might try it as a one-act --it's mercifully short, and an intellectual challenge to stage.

We're off travelling again. This Thursday I'm in That London for the Gollancz autumn bash, where I shall try not to be the drunkest person in the room. Last year's was the last time I saw Rob Holdstock. That's a dark thought. Then, week after, we're in Belgrade, courtesy of my publisher in Serbia, Goran Skrobonja. Looks like a lot of fun. Two weeks after that, Paris for a Le Fleuve des Dieux feature, then back to Nantes for Utopiales. It's a bit later this year, so there'll be no biking around the Loire, alas. Pedalling in to the Bon Laboureur hotel at Chenonceaux, after a miserable drizzly day and fixing a puncture by the side of a back road (with which the Loire is very generously provided, which makes for great near-traffic-free biking) was unforgettable --and the dinner very very good. The cheese-board looked like an art department model of Mos Eisley. Tours, Chenonceaux, Chambord (right by the chateau, I mean, right by the chateau) Blois, Chaumont, back to Tours. Buns of steel, darling! Buns of friggin' steel. Not this year, alas.

In February, in fulfillment of 50th birthday self-promise, we're going to New York. I've never been. Hence the promise. Two flights ex-Dublin (via AMS out, LHR back) for £580 seemed pretty damned reasonable. So, Collective Mind of LJ: what's indispensable in New York if you have four and a half days (and we like the quirky and quintessential and the hidden histories of cities)?

Writing-wise, I'm rattling through Planesrunner (that 'YA' book you may have heard about.) Momentarily ran into a sandbar looking for a patois for airship families, and then hit on it. Polari! Yes, this young person's book features a secret gay slanguage. I'm a huge fan of Polari. Bonaroo, and fantabulosa. I'm also putting together a new proposal that, I think, sends me off in a new direction; as I've said before, I don't want to become self-parody.

And I'm laying a wood floor in the attic. We're rearranging the furniture at McDonald Acres because slimmeroftheyea can have a music room for practising the viola da gamba. So everything is being booted up a floor.
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[User Picture]From: melusinehr
2010-10-17 12:11 pm (UTC)

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If you're interested in any part of the history of NYC, I highly recommend the Big Onion walking tours; the multi-ethnic eating tour is especially good. (My sister is one of the guides, but I'd recommend the tours anyway.) They all give much more interesting information than the standard tourist bus-arounds.
From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-17 12:22 pm (UTC)

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Writing-wise, I'm rattling through Planesrunner (that 'YA' book you may have heard about.)

I haven't and would love to know more. Anything really :)
[User Picture]From: redbird
2010-10-17 01:22 pm (UTC)

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Spend some time in the subway, and ideally pay attention to bits of the artwork in the stations, old (the station signs in the walls at Astor Place are beavers because the namesake Astor got rich in the fur trade) and new (bronze figures of sewer alligators at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue, stained glass at 40th and 46th Streets on the 7 in Queens). You can get this free as part of just going elsewhere, of course, but it's worth looking at the stations as well as just riding. If you're a train enthusiast, there's a Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn.

I've lost track of a lot of what would count as quirky and quintessential, partly because I'm not getting out enough and don't know what's changed.

Fraunces Tavern Museum is a nice bit of American Revolutionary history, focusing on George Washington, but probably not worth it for a non-American without a specific interest in that period or the Masons. Try walking around Chinatown (Manhattan gets you Chinese and Vietnamese-descended people and their food and other bits of culture, with Italian food still tucked in at the north end, though almost everyone living above those Italian restaurants these days is Chinese-American; Flushing has more Korean immigrants mixed in). If architecture interests you, Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope for brownstone buildings.

I'm assuming you're not looking for museums that focus on European art. On the other hand, while the Museum of Natural History isn't quirky, hidden, or very local, it is extremely good in areas including dinosaurs and their relatives and human evolution, and has some impressive gemstones in the Hall of Rocks and Minerals.

(Userpic is a photoshopped Unisphere, at the old World's Fair grounds in Queens.)
[User Picture]From: al_zorra
2010-10-17 03:55 pm (UTC)

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I can write you reams on that, but I'm dashing off for a local history Eastern Shore excusion right now.

Alas that we probably will be down here in February so we can't guide. But I do have a professional NYC guide amigo. We might be up in NYC though, as we certainly have been all fall -- going up again Wednesday.

Love, C.
[User Picture]From: pennski
2010-10-17 08:25 pm (UTC)

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We were staying in Little Korea and the food was interesting and very spicy!

There are some amazing meteorites in the Museum of Natural History - including one the size of a mini which I think is the third largest known one.

We did love central park for decompressing - this was in November. I've no idea what it will be like in February (apart from very cold).
[User Picture]From: gummitch
2010-10-18 07:38 am (UTC)

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...indispensable in New York...

For me, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, particularly the anything from the Hudson River School. But only if you like monumental landscapes on vast canvases.

But if you want a quirky, quintessential, hidden history kind of thing, then look no further than the Tenement Museum
[User Picture]From: retch
2010-10-18 07:38 pm (UTC)

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Make sure to get pizza, I'm not sure if any of the places I liked are still around, but a slice of plain NYC style pizza is gold standard for me.

Obviously there are plenty of museums that are world class, but that's covered in all the tourist stuff.

My memories of Mondello's Eggplant Parmigiana sandwiches are that they were exceptional, in that unhealthy nyc food sort of way, they are located in midtown, 38th street iirc.

There are all sorts of cool neighborhoods to walk around, sadly all the little hole in the wall places I used to know are probably gone so I don't have any good suggestions (St Marks Place used to be worth visiting,etc).
[User Picture]From: jmswallow
2010-10-25 05:08 pm (UTC)

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Great to meet you at the Gollacz do!