NYC: Fun finds

Pop up piano from Sing for Hope sitting in an NYC park

I came to NYC with a list of places I hoped to experience, but because we’re doing most of the city by foot and subway, I’m stumbling on all sorts of unexpected treasures.

While eating Italian fare on a Greenwich Village sidestreet one day, we saw a local television report a man dubbed the “Crazy Piano Guy,” whose been performing random acts of music on NYC streets since 2003. He’s careful to note in his bio that he’s not actually “crazy” but apparently he’s elevated the slur to a savvy exercise in branding.

That got me searching for New York street music, and soon I discovered an organization called “Sing for Hope,” which has pianos and players fanned out across the city through July 2 — when they’ll present a free concert in an atrium at Lincoln Center. Lizabeth played one we found in a Lincoln Center plaza while we were there to see “War Horse” Thursday night, so I suppose now I can brag about her “playing Lincoln Center.”

I found this farmers market fare while searching for the WTC Tribute Center

I took the subway to and from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Wednesday night for “The Book of Mormon” and ended up a bit off the beaten path while trying to make my way back to the hotel. The subway I can master, but the streets I have yet to memorize. There are more than a few of them here.

I found this Hudson River ferry stop after exploring Poets House

But getting lost has its own rewards — like discovering a pair of pianos in a park where two lovers sat on a nearby bench. The pianos were retired for the evening, and covered in tarps. A middle-aged man walking through the park with his wife gleefully approach one of the instruments, but his wife insisted they move along instead of pausing to play. My heart sank.

I got a little gleeful myself with this next find — the Poets House near the Battery Park City Library I happened upon during a futile attempt to visit the World Trade Center Tribute Center. I visited the library too, which was alive with color and children and conversation. Soon I was strolling a riverwalk realizing that the vibrancy and life in NYC is the greatest tribute to those who lost their lives here on 9/11.

Liberty Community Garden

I never reached the tribute center near Church and Liberty streets because I wasn’t clever enough to navigate all the construction detours, but I did luck upon the “Liberty Community Garden,” another oasis in this city of 8 million. It’s bordered on one side by a giant financial center and a simple outdoor basketball court on the other. I also explored the World Financial Center “Green Market.”

I encounted a bit of street art called “Tiles for America” while walking around Greenwich Village with Lizabeth Tuesday afternoon. It’s a chain link fence strewn with tattered tiles painted in remembrance of 9/11. There’s nothing fun about recalling that dreadful day, but I was delighted to find this art — one of many collections inspired by loss, heroism, love and hope.

Detail of the Tiles for America street exhibit in NYC

I’m eager to experience another fun find, just now in the making, next time I’m in NYC. It’s an art exhibition featuring photos of children from around the globe, and it’s coming to “Park51 Community Center” — a site known to some as “the mosque at Ground Zero.” If you like the project, you can support it via “Kickstarter.” I found this gem by playing with my smart phone as Lizabeth was in a college meeting.

I may have to settle for virtual NYC experiences during our final day in the city. My feet feel pushed to the limit and I’m too thrifty to pop for cab fare. When Jennifer and I visited San Francisco together several years ago, we walked far too many miles through city streets and Golden Gate Park. She ended up needing foot and ankle surgery, and I’d like to avoid a similar fate.

It is possible, I suppose, to have too much fun.

— Lynn

Note: Many of my most cherished photos appear to be lost because of memory card problems, but if my hubby/tech man gets the kinks out I’ll be updating this post with more pictures over the weekend.

Coming up: Musings on “The Book of Mormon”

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