Sunday, December 19, 2010

City Guide Part 13

Sunday: a day meant for relaxation, recuperation and rest. Participation in this typical Sunday routine was high on our list as we strolled out of the hotel in Queens. Instead of rushing to the elevated tracks to catch the next train, we ambled along the sidewalk toward the station taking in the warm mid morning sun. We rode the train towards Manhattan then transferred to an underground train headed south and into Brooklyn. We emerged in Downtown Brooklyn to find the warm sun was replaced with ominous rain clouds. Our destination was a few blocks away: The Brooklyn Tabernacle. The Tabernacle holds several services throughout the day and we were told the line to enter the next service would not be allowed to start for several minutes. To fill up time, we decided to walk around the block. Downtown Brooklyn on a late Sunday morning had little to offer. The traffic was very light and few people were out on the street. All the shops were closed except one: a dollar store. We stepped inside and started looking around. The merchandise in the store was phenomenal. It was as if the value of the dollar had risen several hundred percent overnight! There were classic button up dress shirts, one pound bags of premium chocolates and authentic Rastafarian hats. I enjoyed walking the aisles and finding valuable merchandise on every shelf. Some say living in New York is expensive; but finding quality household items in New York is not. We left the store and walked back to the Tabernacle where we joined the line of people waiting for the next service. The outside of the church is drab, grey and blends in well with the warehouses that line the street. However, as the line we had joined entered the building, the grey exterior gave way to a brilliant white, red, and marble interior. We found our seats and the service began. The world famous Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir began to sing and their music enveloped the enormous sanctuary. The sound filled my ears without the sensation of being too loud. After announcements and the offering, the pastor introduced a professional football player who ran an after school program for "at risk" youth. After his presentation, the pastor led the congregation in prayer for the continued success of the charity. The pastor then started with his sermon. I believe the sermon was about Jesus's love and how we should reflect that love to others around us. During the sermon, the pastor asked everyone to stand, look into the eyes of the person sitting next to you, give them a big hug and say " Jesus Loves You." The young lady sitting next to me looked into my eyes with much sincerity and gave me a hearty hug. I will never forget her.

Continued in Part 14
City Guide Part 12

It was late Saturday afternoon, and window shoppers were in full force, eyeing the delicate and edgy window displays along 5th Avenue. One display that caught my attention was in the window of Louis Vuitton. A glass lined exhibition reflected light from dozens of multi colored florescent tubes which enveloped the newest line of merchandise. The display at Tiffany & Company made me feel as if I was peering in at a queen's personal jewelry collection. Soon, we arrived at The Trump Tower, and recognized its setting for "The Apprentice" television program. The entrance is a fixture in the progression of the show. Typically, the losing contestant leaves the building, walks across the sidewalk and is let in to a waiting cab. We reversed this pattern and walked from the street into the brilliance of the main atrium. The building was built in the early 80's and the period style was plain to see. Gold, orange and brown dominate the building's public areas. A five story waterfall cascades down the far wall of the building. We rode a series of escalators where we absorbed the peaceful experience of standing at the top of the waterfall. After collecting ourselves in the tranquil surroundings, we continued down 5th Avenue.

After walking several blocks, we found a subway station and headed back to the hotel in Queens. Back at the hotel, Mom and Dad chose to call it a day. Although Scott and I were tired, we wanted to take the train to the far end of the #7 line to the site of the 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows. The train stopped many times along the way, but we finally made it to the end of the line. We got out and ran up the stairs to find a teeming neighborhood where everything was written in Korean . Although it was not what I was expecting, I was amazed at how concentrated the Korean culture was here. Scott soon reminded me that our original plan was to visit the World's Fair Unisphere and not Korea Town. We found our way back to the train and took the short trip back to the second to last station at Shea Stadium. Unlike the Korea Town station, this one was deserted; when we exited, we were all alone. We could see the Unisphere looming across the park. Dusk closed around us as we stood in the center of the enormous fountain. After a short time at the Unisphere, we walked back to the station. Although it was now very dark, there were many families with children and pets making the most of a warm Saturday night at the park. When we got back to the train station, we noticed a group of people crowded in a corner of the raised platform. I could tell they were watching the Met's game inside Shea Stadium. Scott and I walked over and found a spot among the fans and watched the last innings of the game. When the Met's were up to bat, one of the players hit a triple. I could feel the crowd's excitement as cheering boomed out from the stadium. When the game was over, Scott and I rushed to the train to beat the crowds. But our haste to leave the station before the crowd was in vain. The train engineer waited for all the cars to fill to maximum before the train left. On the ride back to the hotel, I thought of the soon demise of Shea Stadium. In just a few months, the Stadium would be razed to make room for a new venue. I thought of the people we joined on the platform watching the game from a distance, and wondered if people stood on the same platform in 1965 when The Beatles made their inaugural North American Tour.

The train was still fairly crowded when we reached our hotel stop in Queens.

Continued in Part 13
City Guide Part 11

As we walked along Central Park South, with the park to our left,
and the impressive Plaza Hotel to our right we came across several art
vendors. These vendors were not selling original and unique pieces of
art. They were selling refrigerator magnets and small unframed mass
printed photographs. I was not impressed. It seemed as if every other
vendor was selling the same thing. The sidewalk was packed with
people. It was difficult to pass between the crowds of tourists. We
eventually made our way out of the crowds and emerged in Grand Army

The main feature of Grand Army Plaza, is a large gold colored statue
of General William Sherman on a horse being led by an angelic figure.
Beyond the statue, and across 5th Avenue, stood the glass entrance to
the flagship Apple store. After first seeing a photo of the glass
Apple Cube, I assumed the whole store was inside that Cube. But I now
realized The Cube is simply a fancy entrance to the actual underground
store. There was a small line of people waiting to visit the store.
Mom and Dad opted out of the line, and decided to wait for Scott and me
among the dozens of chairs and tables outside. After descending the
stairs and entering the main retail area, Scott and I realized that this

store was no more special than any other computer store. We browsed
the merchandise, blending in with homeless people checking their emails
at the demo computers. We soon decided to walk back up the stairs and out of the Cube.

Dad and Mom were enjoying the fresh air outside. Behind them, I
noticed the main entrance to the FAO Schwarz store.

The FAO Schwarz store, along with the 5th avenue Apple store were
grandiose institutions in my imagination. As I neared the front door
to the building, my anticipation of the most fabulous toy store in the
world grew. I was greeted by a friendly doorman dressed as a toy
soldier. And as I stepped inside, I quickly scanned the front showroom
for amazing toys. I was quickly disappointed when most of what I saw
in the store were plush toys and candy. After I gave up trying to find
the actual toys, I began to notice the detail of the stuffed
creatures. Most were incredible in size and full of character. Some of
the items could not fit into a normal sized bedroom.

With my preemptive 5th Avenue Retail expectations lowered, we exited
the FAO Schwarz store and walked down 5th avenue toward the looming
Trump Tower.

Continued in Part 12