I had a jam-packed weekend. Friday night we had a friend over for dinner and drinks. He’s moving away in a few weeks, so we want to spend as much time with him as we can. We’ll miss him when he leaves, especially Ben because they’re running partners.
Saturday morning we enjoyed the last day of Summer Streets. Summer Streets is a beloved NY tradition. The first three Saturdays in August, nearly 7 miles (from Lafayette St by Brooklyn Bridge to Park Ave by 72nd St) of the streets of Manhattan are car-free. The streets become a pedestrian playground from 7 am to 1 pm. Along the 7-mile stretch various stations are set up. Rockclimbing, zipling, zumba classes, yoga practices, free food samples, bike rentals, mini golf, exercise challenges, art exhibitions, performances, and more were available and 100% free. Normally NYers are asleep on weekend mornings, but for Summer Streets, people are out in full force. Runners in the middle of their marathon training do their long run up and down Park Ave for Summer Streets. The streets were full of runners, cyclists, and walkers.
Ben had a daypass for getting a Citibike, so he biked and I ran. We went to the Park Ave tunnel that turned into an art installation, “Dive” by Norwegian artist Jana Winderen. The tunnel was dark, except for some lights that allowed enough illumination to allow people to walk safely. Sounds of water were played through speakers. As you walked through, you’re supposed to feel as if you’re a deep sea diver. Next we went to Astor Place to take part in “My Way” by Nick Tobier. He distributed these cute tiny little musical boxes to several people. We each got one to keep. We played “My Way” on our musical boxes while walking up and down the street. Then we converged upon the steps of Public Theater where we played our musical boxes for about 20 minutes. At first we didn’t attracted much attention, but soon we gathered a small crowd.
In total, I ran about five miles. It was fun to be able to run where we don’t usually get to run. My pace was slow because I got held up when cars were allowed to cross through. We always have so much fun with Summer Streets. It’s always a bit sad when it’s all over.
Saturday night I went to a good-bye party for a good friend, who’s moving to Texas. As we sang karaoke at Pieces, a gay karaoke bar in the West Village, a flood of memories came over me. I used to come here just about every week when I first moved to NYC. A high school friend brought me to Pieces and there I met a wonderful cadre of fabulous gay men, including the friend who’s moving away. Pieces has a merry lighthearted fun atmosphere. Though I’m not a fan of karaoke, I adore Pieces. In a city where I felt I knew no one, at Pieces I felt like I was a part of a community. I’ll miss my friend and all the fun times that we had together. I’m excited for him and this new chapter in his life, but I’ll miss him.
Sunday I woke up early to get tickets for Shakespeare in the Park with my friends. It was the last night for King Lear. All summer long Public Theater offers free tickets to their productions for Shakespeare in the Park. Despite the name, not all productions are Shakespearean plays. The excellent productions and big well known names ensures that people are highly motivated to get tickets. Tickets are distributed at noon, but people line for for tickets hours beforehand. It’s not uncommon for people to camp overnight at Central Park. We got in line at 7am, which was already about six blocks long. The hours flew by because we sat around and chattered like magpies. Around 11 am, someone came by to tell us that our section was likely to get tickets. Finally at noon, tickets were distributed. As we stood in line, a guard approached one of my friends to accuse her of cutting in. We were all in shock because she had been in line with us for the entire time. Strangers who didn’t know us but had been next to us for the last several hours immediately protested and vouched for her continual presence. The guard insisted that she had cut in based upon someone else way behind us complaining. We got a supervisor to intervene. She spoke to the people who were next to us and decided that we were telling the truth. The guard suddenly changed his story and said that he confused my friend for another person. Lesson of the story, when you get in line, take a selfie and post it somewhere so you have timestamped proof of when you got in line. We got our tickets by 12:30 and King Lear was at 8 pm.
Ben came out to the city to join me for the afternoon. We hung out at various establishments eating and drinking. Finally it was time to see King Lear. I was eager to see King Lear because John Lithgow was playing King Lear. I’m a big fan of his. I grew up watching “Third Rock from the Sun” and saw him many years ago as Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady.” Annette Bening was also in King Lear as Goneril, King Lear’s oldest daughter. We saw Warren Beatty in the audience. I hadn’t ever seen or read King Lear, so it was nice to get familiar with another Shakespearean play. John Lithgow was magnificent as King Lear. He has such a presence and an incredible powerful voice. It’s a real pleasure and honor to watch him perform on stage.
Getting back home was a bit of an adventure. We waited in the 9th St. PATH station for a long while. Eventually a train appeared, but it was northbound to midtown. It appeared on the track that’s typically for southbound trains. We learned from the conductor that something was up and trains were running on a single track. Meaning that exactly one train was running up and down the same track. We decided to stay in the station and wait for that train to come back. After several more minutes we smelled something odd. Smoke began coming out of the tunnel. I was a bit alarmed, but the smoke was light and it quickly disappeared. When the train reappeared again, it brought more smoke with it. Now thick plumes of grey smoke streamed out of the train cars and began to fill the station. Panicked riders ran out of the train. I got scared and wanted to go out too. Ben wisely cautioned to wait. He didn’t want us to get caught in the middle of the panic and get crushed. By the time more than half the riders left the station all together, a frustrated conductor came on the speaker and reassured us that the train was safe and the smoke was nothing to be worried about. By this time, most of the smoke had disappeared, so we decided to get in the train, especially since it was going to be the last train at that station for the night. The good thing about all the smoke was that it cleared out a very crowded train. Now we had seats. The train ride home from then on was uneventful. Thank goodness. We still don’t know for sure what was the cause of the smoke. Ben speculated that it had something to do with brakes. While I’m glad that the smoke was nothing serious, I would rather that my PATH rides were more boring. Ben found the whole episode to be very exciting and stimulating.
The weekend just flew by. I felt that this weekend truly lived up to my blog’s name – A Fast Paced Life.