Culture and Chemistry
I needed to travel to New York City again for the annual Society of Cosmetic Chemists scientific seminar. Jason was down with that as long as he could tag along. We stayed over the weekend after my seminar was done to make the arduous airplane ride worth the bother.
The great thing about NYC is that no matter how many times you visit there are always more things to do and see than you could possibly have time for. This year, out of the nearly limitless options, we ended up going to a lot of shows and being all sorts of cultural. We saw the Lion King on Broadway, the New York Pops’ Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall, and the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. They were all fantastic but I was most excited about getting a chance to see Carnegie Hall. Being inside a legendary venue like that felt like being a part of history and our seats were in one of the hall’s cool old school opera boxes so that was pretty sweet.
Another highlight of our trip was being part of the studio audience for a filming of The Colbert Report. I love Colbert, and if he isn’t the very definition of culture I don’t know what is, so I was thrilled that we were able to procure tickets and be in his crazy presence. What a nut! The one downside to attending the Colbert Report was that we had to wait outside in the frigid NYC winter for over an hour before they let us into the studio. By then both Jason and I felt cold down to our bones and we couldn’t get warm the rest of the night. But Colbert was worth it most definitely.
In addition to the multitude of entertaining shows we went to, we found a plethora of culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Holy relics Batman! This museum is amazing. We spent all day there and only saw a small fraction of their exhibits. We made it through the Egyptian portion, the arms and armory wing, and some of the countless paintings. Everything we did see was spectacular from Henry VIII’s armor to the Temple of Dendur, which was transported in its 800 ton entirety from Egypt to the museum to save it from being submerged when the Aswan High Dam was created. Jason was captivated by the Book of the Dead displayed in the Egyptian section. Who knew that the Book of the Dead wasn’t a Hollywood fabrication? The many incredible paintings by Rembrandt, van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet-just to name a few-were probably what I liked best but I think we could have spent a full week at the MET and still not have seen everything. Wow! Wow! Wow! If you ever get a chance I would highly recommend checking that place out.
There are only a couple letters separating couture from culture so I think it’s quite fitting that the pursuit of fashion accompanied our cultural escapades. One of my favorite things about NYC is the shopping. Manhattan is surprisingly deficient in certain types of shops. For instance, finding a grocery store is nearly impossible and when you finally do stumble upon one you inevitably discover that it is roughly the size of a 7 Eleven. But what Manhattan lacks, I mean really lacks, in way of fresh consumables it makes up for with other goods. The hotel we stayed at was just a block away from the famous and fabulous shopping on 5th Avenue. Oh glorious shops! I am not ashamed, though perhaps I should be, to admit that I spent rather a lot of money along that stretch of road, probably enough to feed a family in Ethiopia for a year. We went to FAO Schwarz (They still have the huge piano featured in the movie Big on display.), Tiffany’s, H&M, Anthropologie, Henri Bendel, and many more. For any of you ladies planning a trip to NYC, Henri Bendel is a must! If multiple floors filled solely with jewelry, purses, scarves, makeup, and hair accessories don’t make you drool then you don’t deserve the estrogen in your cells. If I lived in NYC all those divine shops would be the death of my financial stability I’m afraid. Good thing there is a limit to how many darling dresses one can stuff in a suitcase.
No trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without some good grub: a literal cultural intake. My two favorite places we ate at this time were Five Napkin Burger and The Modern. At Five Napkin Burger I ate the best hamburger that has ever touched my lips: a big patty of chuck roast, a thick slice of gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and a rosemary aioli sauce. Oh my goodness! The Modern is part of the Museum of Modern Art and features a fusion of American and French cuisine. The food there is served as a series of small courses. All the courses we had, from horseradish crusted Scottish salmon with Riesling froth to Beignets topped with maple ice cream and caramel sauce, were delicious and the serving staff was impeccable. I would highly recommend both these places to anyone that finds themselves in NYC.
We had a lovely time in Manhattan, and we were drenched in culture by the time we returned, but visiting NYC always makes me wonder how people can live so removed from nature. Perhaps it is easy to feel, when surrounded by manmade giants of steel and glass, that nature is obsolete but I could never believe or live like that. Man’s accomplishments and creations may be everywhere in NYC but the awe of nature is completely lost. No thank you; I need my green growing things. I’d take my snow capped mountains over the bustling streets of NYC any day…though I wouldn’t mind having a few of those 5th Avenue shops here in Utah.