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New York Adventures, Part Two

The final two day so of my New York trip were a whirlwind.  On Tuesday Ian and I had lunch with out publisher, editor, publicist, and agent.  It was a fabulous Italian restaurant a block from the Flat Iron building.  They had these lovely little plates of appetizers — sort of Italian dim sum.  We sampled fried artichokes, I ordered roasted eggplant because I love it so much, there were cheeses, and white anchovies.  We then picked a main course.  I went with an orange and endive salad that was delicious.

It was a lingering meal with a wide ranging conversation about the state of publishing, and plans for our books, and thoughts on future projects.  Our agent had another meeting, but Ian and I went back to Tor, and had a terrific tour courtesy of Dot Lin.  I met the brilliant artist who is designing my covers.  (Wait until you see the cover for book two, it’s gorgeous.)

We went in to say hello to Tom Doherty who showed us the sights from his office in the point of the Flat Iron building.  He also gave us a more information about the earthquakes that are shaking publishing.  The latest tremor is the collapse of a book and magazine distributor.  We are in interesting times, and I mean that in the Chinese curse way.  I just hope we all survive.  Still, it is always fascinating to get Tom’s insights because he knows this business from the ground up.  Some of the collapse of the distributor is due to the global downturn in the economy and the fact the Chinese are not buying scrap paper to make fireworks and boxes.  Yes, our stripped books and magazines were going to fuel the Chinese economic engine.  Unfortunately that engine is sputtering just like ours.

We left Tor around 5:00 pm.  We had theater tickets for a performance of South Pacific at 7:00 pm.  There really wasn’t time to return to Brooklyn so we headed over to Lincoln Center, found a restaurant and had a light supper before the show.

I had wanted to see this revival of South Pacific because it won a number of Tony Awards.  I can see why.  It was a wonderful production with innovative set design, terrific lighting, great singers who were also good actors, and a small but exuberant orchestra that had everyone keeping time, and almost dancing in their seats.

One of the things I really liked was the dancing.  The dancers were all very good, and the men particularly athletic, but the choreography was more physical than balletic, and so it felt like you were watching young men who were far from home, and longing for wives and girlfriends as they belted out There is Nothing Like A Dame.  Basically it didn’t feel like a Broadway chorus line.

There is one point when the planes are heading out, and they swept a spotlight across the audience, and had the sound effects, and it was like you were no longer in a theater.

There was something apt too, about a show that deals so openly with issues of racism.  I know were supposed to be all post-racial now, except mayors have had to resign for sending out a “joke” that shows the front lawn of the White House planted with watermelons, and the New York Post runs a cartoon that portrays Obama as an ape, and the Republicans send out a CD with a song called Barack the Magic Negro.  So maybe we still have something to learn from the powerful song, You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.

It’s sung by the young lieutenant who is a Philadelphia blue blood but has fallen in love with a Tonkinese girl, but can’t bring himself to be with her.
After the show we rode the subway back to Brooklyn and fell into bed.  Ian was heading home on Wednesday, but I wanted to spend an extra day so I could play with my friends Stephen and Janice.

I got off to a bit of slow start, but I met Stephen and Janice for lunch.  I asked Janice to introduce me to a good, real New York bagel.  Stephen claims that the phrase a “good bagel” is an oxymoron, but I really like them, and Janice found a good place that was near the Museum of Natural History where we planned to spend much of the day.  Real bagels are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  The bagels I get in New Mexico are just tough and doughy.
As we were walking to the museum it began to rain, but I’m a high desert rat so I love it when water falls out of the sky.  Once in the museum we toured the stunning planetarium, but we’re science fiction geeks so there wasn’t much to surprise us.  Then it was onto the dinosaurs and there we did learn some things that surprised and delighted us.  They now think that T-Rex didn’t stand upright, but balanced by holding its tail straight out behind, while the neck was also carried low and thrust forward.  So, it would have moved along like a chicken searching the ground for a tasty morsel to peck.  The image of T-Rex as chicken had me giggling for way too long.

We wandered through the old fashioned dioramas.  They are just so 1900.  I could imagine top hatted gentlemen, and corseted ladies with their children in tow.  The sons would be wearing knickers and the daughters dressed in pinafores with bows in their long hair.  All of them gazing at the strange and exotic people in their native costumes in smug white reaction to the “natives”.
We ended up in the gems and minerals hall, and I gazed hungrily at the Star of India.  It’s a gigantic star sapphire with a perfect star blazing out from the depths of the blue.  It must have been good to be rich.  Rich enough to own it in the first place, and rich enough to donate it to the museum.

Janice had another appointment, but Stephen and I had also hit brain overload so we headed out.  Stephen and I paused in a coffee shop and talked about books we liked and why we liked them.  I fielded calls from a group who had invited me to speak at a conference in the upcoming weekend.  I was trying to decide whether to attend or not coming so soon on the Boston/New York trip.

Stephen had never seen the Apple Mothership at 50th so we went over to the enormous glass cube that marks the Apple store.  Unfortunately they had laid carpet on the clear stairs which rather ruined the effect.  I’m hoping it was just a temporary measure to deal with wet shoes and keep people from slipping.   We didn’t buy anything, but I marked down some items I wanted once I got home.

Tonight was our genuine New York pizza night.  George R.R. had made some recommendations so we ended up at John’s near Times Square.  The pizza was really good though a bit floppier than I like.  We talked until 9:30, and then Stephen and Janice walked me to the subway.  I was delighted because I got to move through the neon rainbows and energy of Times Square.  I love it at night, and I’m not sorry it is no longer the property of pimps, hookers, drugs and porn shops.

You could, however, see the effect of the economy.  The crowds were very small, and rather subdued.

I got back to Sam’s, packed, and prepared to return home.  I ended up going to that conference, but until I’m given permission I can’t discuss the conference or the topic.  I’m hoping because it was fascinating and I have some great photos from the site.

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