Sunday, August 05, 2007

Eastside girl ventures west

Ah, vacation days - sleeping late and plotting the best use of whatever daylight hours are left.

Mid-afternoon, I hopped the M4 bus at Central Park and 110th and headed west. My goal was Grant's Tomb. I know, I know. I'm a Southern girl, but I still wanted to see it. I hold no grudges seeing as how he was on the right side (er, the side of right), let's face it. (And I'm not going to get into the states' rights thing right now. I'm on vacation.) Anyway. Grant's Tomb.

The old joke is: "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" "Nobody. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia aren't buried there, they are entombed there." Ha. Ha. Well, whatever they're doing there, it's a pretty awesome edifice. I mean, this is one whackin' great monument, friends. And their entombments are massive. See?

Grant's Tomb is next to Riverside Drive and the Hudson River. A lovely, lovely setting. One of the unexpectedly fun things that I discovered was the collection of funky, mosaic-tile benches surrounding three sides of the monument. The benches are oddly shaped - some face the monument, some face the river or the park to the north - and each has a unique design. A New York taxi. Einstein. A clown. Hearts and flowers. Wonder if Grant would approve? Ah, well. No matter. I thought they were wonderful!

Rather than bus it back to El Barrio, I decided to walk. I really wanted to see the view from the tower of the Riverside Church but it was closed. Darn. As was the church proper. Double-darn. So I opted for a mosey through Barnard and Columbia. Then on toward The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

I've been in SJD several times (once for friend Harry's installation as Dean, which was awesome in the original, un-Valley-speak meaning of the word), so I didn't need to go inside. But I did poke around the student sculpture garden. Very cool and artsy. In addition to the big sculpture, there were little plaques for different philosophers and artists like Georgia O'Keefe, John Lennon, Mark Twain, Thoreau, Gandhi. Interesting and well done.

By that time, I was getting rather peckish. I settled on the patio of "Spoonbread" (Columbus and 110th) for some "real" Southern food. Just my way or compensating for the Grant's Tomb visit. I'm not usually an al fresco eater, but there was a nice, cool breeze and low humidity, so it was actually quite comfortable.

Here's what I ordered (fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas). Not up to Atlanta's Colonnade Restaurant, but it scratched an itch, if you know what I mean. I even managed to pull out my journal and do a little writing while I was there (though not 1000 words).

All in all, a pleasant day with a few nice surprises (mosaic benches, sculpture garden, fried chicken).

4 comments:

Winston said...

Even if the food wasn't up to par, it looks like they have the right kind of Suthun table cloth. Is it oilcloth? Remember that stuff?

Just saw you featured over at CGHill's dustbury.com. Congratulations, you have arrived!

MaryB said...

Yes, Winston, it was on oilcloth, believe it or not. Right in the heart of NYC! And thanks for letting me know I've made the big-time. It's always nice to be noticed in a good way.

Liz said...

You can take the girl out of the South but you can't take the south of the girl.

Looks like a great day. I've got a photo of the imagine plaque too!

They've got mosaic benches in Barcelona in a park, but they do seem a strange thing to have outside a classic tomb. Nice though.

MaryB said...

Too right, Liz!

And actually the mosaic benches were an interesting juxtaposition with the very formal huge mausoleum. Didn't distract from it at all, as they were shaded by the trees and sort of blended into the scenery until they came into focus.