Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rant #745: Trip to the Big City

I am not a country bumpkin, but a trip to the "Big City" is usually an adventure.

It's a nice place to visit, but I definitely would not want to live--or work--there.

Manhattan isn't terribly far away from where I live on Long Island. An hour's train ride on the Long Island Railroad is all that it takes, and that is what myself, my wife and my son did on Sunday.

We went into Manhattan to see a Broadway play, "The End of the Rainbow," at the Belasco Theater right off of Times Square.

The play was better than I expected it to be. It's a downer play, no doubt about that, but it was interesting.

It's about the final days of Judy Garland, and her travails with pills, alcohol and men during those days.

I am sure it is based on fact, although there were probably some liberties taken to make the show more engrossing. And everybody knows the outcome, so it kind of dulled the emphasis of the show.

But let me tell you, the actress who played Garland, Tracie Bennett, channelled the late singer. She looked, sounded like, and became Garland during this play.

Sure, it's basically a one-note story, but this performance has to be seen to be believed. She was absolutely terrific, and the rest of the cast was too.

Surprised the heck out of me, and yes, Bennett is up for a Tony award, and even though this play has received, at best, mixed reviews, she deserves the award hands down.

The Belasco Theater was probably about 75 percent full for the afternoon performance. The downstairs seats were almost all filled, but the balcony was about two-thirds empty.

But we had fun. And we had fun traipsing through Manhattan on a beautiful spring day to get to the theater, and then to get back to the Long Island Railroad.

When you go to Manhattan, you have to expect to see all ravages of humankind, and yes, we saw just that. We saw the legendary singing cowboy, in his cowboy hat and underwear. We saw Lady Liberty, or a guy dressed up as her. We saw Mr. Pothead (I don't know what he actually was called), who wore a box on his head and asked for donations because he needed pot.

And yes, we saw all the beggars and panhandlers and everything else that makes up the Big Apple.

And yes, we saw many "normal" people, out for a stroll or to see the sites or to get somewhere, like us.

It was fun, but I have always hated Manhattan. I hated working there, too, during the couple of years that I had to go into the city Monday through Friday to try to make a living.

I hated the hassle, the hustle, the bustle, and the seemingly complete disregard that a lot of people have for other people that I saw when I worked there.

Everyone seemed to be on their own wavelength, and if anything upset that wavelength, all hell broke loose.

I worked there in the early 1980s, and God gave me a message one day, I swear he did.

I was coming home during mid-week, it may have been a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and I was on my usual train back home to Long Island.

We entered the Jamaica Station, no problem, but as we were exiting, we experienced a bump, and suddenly, my car was off the track.

I was in the rear car, and we had hit something, but was the only car affected. But as I saw us veer off the track and saw Jamaica Avenue come nearer--and as another passenger jumped up to hit the emergency button just as we were ready to go over the side--God spoke to me and said, "You can't do this anymore."

And I didn't. I left my job several months later to go "full time" to graduate school, only to return during a brief respite in the 1990s.

And I hated working in Manhattan then too.

So when I visit Manhattan, I usually go for pleasure, with the safe feeling that after I have fun, I will be going home.

And I had the same feeling on Sunday.

After spending several hours in the heart of the world in Times Square, I had had enough.

It was a good day, but like they say, it's a nice place to visit, but no, I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, no way, no how.

I like where I am now, thank you very much.

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