Our Trip to New York to hang out with Madeleine, see old friends and see Hamilton

Madeleine was forunate enough to have seen the Broadway musical Hamilton before it became impossible to get tickets for it. She loved it, told us all about it, made us buy the album. She also, one year ago in May 2016, heard that a new batch of tickets would be released on a certain day, so she sat at the phone as the clock ticked away till midnight and then started dialing the number for tickets. After a few attempts, she got through and bought four tickets for May 18 2017. The three of us Austinites then planned a trip to New York for that week, to see Hamilton and do other touristy things. We were also under orders from Madeleine to listen to the album until we knew all the songs by heart.

Louise and I flew up on Sunday May 14. We Ubered in from the airport to our hotel, which was in Harlem, about 15 minutes' walk from Madeleine's apartment. The hotel, Aloft in Harlem, was quite decent and had a king-size bed, allowing us to flail around during the night without disturbing the other.

Antonia, being a working stiff, couldn't afford to take the whole week off and flew in on Wednesday. We had reserved a space at the Rio Bravo, a Mexican restaurant in Larchmont, for Wednesday evening and invited our old Larchmont friends to come and visit us. We had a great time catching up with everyone - just like old times.

Thursday was Hamilton. When I first heard about a rap musical about these famous historical characters dealing with the revolutionary war and trying to create a nation, I was dubious. I might like the historical part but rap music is definitely not my thing. Others might love the music but have little interest in the history. Some part of me wanted to report that it has been grossly over-hyped and that I saw through it right away. BUT - somehow it all came together in a way that satisfied everybody and I lapped it up just like everybody else. The show is loud and fast-paced and the music swept us along. And a good time was had by all.

Friday was Improv, which turns out to be Madeleine's new passion. Her class was putting on a show at a small venue on the lower east side. The class was divided into two teams, although Madeleine, being something of a star, was in both of them. Each team solicited a word or two from the audience. Then the team would toss the word about, making a chain of fairly random associations. During this process, the team is actually agreeing on a number of short acts based on a specific word. When they are finished, they go right into the acts, with the team members stepping up for the roles on the spot. Not all the acts were equally funny, but the overall impression was hilarious. And I can say without a trace of partiality that Madeleine was freakin' amazing!

Louise and I spent a couple of hours at the new building on the site of the World Trade Center. There is the Oculus, which is a large, mostly underground structure which connects up the various pieces on the site - subway stations, the PATH station, the museum and the new One World Trade Center building which rises to 101 stories, just as the twin towers did. Before we actually went into the complex, we were accosted by a charming Eastern-European-sounding man who just wanted to help us. He asked us where we were going and told us the best way to get there. I couldn't help noticing that he held a large sheaf of profusely illustrated magazines containing pictures of the events of 9/11. When I asked about them, he said he wanted to give us one. "What's the catch?" we asked. Well, he said, they are really priced at $20 each, but he'd be willing to give us two of them for only $10. We acknowledged that was a spectacular deal, but said we really weren't interested. He came back with "How about two for $5?" At this point, I decided that we'd get $5 of pleasure out of recounting this tale and fished out $5. The two magazines were not identical but shared about 50% of the pictures and appeared to be mostly taken from the internet.

We had tickets to go up to the observatory on the top floor. The views were indeed spectacular, although they made you stand through a multimedia presentation to whoop you up to the necessary level of enthusiasm before you could see them. But they had a pleasant cafeteria up there, along with the oportunity to purchase your body weight in overpriced trinkets.

The three of us flew back together on Sunday and agreed it had been a most satisfying trip.

Here are a few of our pics.

Louise at the library on 42nd Louise with lion Not shampoo but real Pooh in the library
The real Christopher Robin Strolling through the Arboretum in Central Park
Museum of the City of New York Hamilton the stage Doing the Hamilton
The Oculus in front of World One Inside the Oculus Floating in the clouds in front of World One at dusk

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