Recovering from sensory overload of a weekend in New York City. Spring was in full bloom across the city, much earlier than I can remember - climate change in action. When did they start planting trees in sidewalk openings? Their splashes of color gave the city a vibrant, festive spirit, as did the beautiful flowers in Central Park, so well-loved these days.
We stayed right off Times Square on the border of Hell's Kitchen, now blended along with other once distinctive and rough neighborhoods into the gentrification that has changed the city, not as dangerous and thrilling as it was years ago, but still full of excitement.
The musical "Hamilton" lived up to its billing. Fitting that it's at the lovely old Richard Rodgers; Lin-Manual Miranda's hip-hop spectacle about Aaron Burr's hatred of Alexander Hamilton and the American Revolution struck me as being as transformative of Broadway musical techniques as Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein's "Oklahoma."
"Hamilton" included several numbers with the melodic power of traditional "show=stoppers," yet the rap songs that pushed the narrative with little spoken dialogue likely won't remain in the mind like "Surrey With the Fringe on the Top," "Oklahoma," and "People Will Say We're in Love." Or maybe Miranda's rap songs will last; the cast recording appears compelling even to older Broadway buffs.
After warm days of spotty morning rain breaking into afternoon sunshine, Sunday morning brought fierce cold winds. I walked to The New York Times' old building at 229 West 43rd. St., where I once endured a week-long tryout.
The old building looked woebegone and abandoned, not yet redeveloped nearly 10 years after the newspaper left for sleek new headquarters nearby on Eighth Avenue. The row of white globes that say "Times Sq." in Times type remain above the building's silent doors, lonely reminders of the newspaper's great years there.
Fleeing the wind, we ate breakfast at one of those Times Square "brasseries." Our cheerful waitress, Anastasia, said she was from Belarus. One of the joys of Manhattan is hearing a mixtape of voices and dialects on the streets, restaurants, museums and stores. We passed a couple of Trump-branded buildings. How can a New York guy talk of walls?