Thursday, August 3, 2017

NYCDays 46 & 47: In Which Captain Swing Embarks on a Mystery Tour

Law and Order: SVU comes to Washington Heights

Day 46: Monday 31, July | Expenses $101.40 ($127.10)

I turned into 187th street, and to my surprise I saw that Hollywood has still not left Washington Heights (see previous posts). Wow, thinks I, given that they started filming scenes at an apartment on 187th for Asher a week ago, that is turning into one hell of a long film shoot. Imagine my even greater surprise to learn that this was not the same film crew who were filming scenes for Asher, but a different film crew filming scenes for Law & Order: SVU, (Special Victims Unit). Seriously? Since when did Washington Heights become such a 'go to' location for filming? As interesting as it is to see this type of activity in the neighborhood, I'm somewhat annoyed because I stopped watching these types of shows years ago, so it is highly unlikely that I will ever get to see how 'my neighborhood' is depicted on screen.

The empty stage at City Winery awaits Captain Swing
Michelle Shocked returned to the City Winery (155, Varick Street, New York City) for the second of her summer residency performances, this time to play in full her second album, Captain Swing. I had assumed that Michelle would be backed by the same trio of musicians she had with her in June when she preformed Short Sharp Shocked, but no, this time the four musicians, most of whom seemed to be long-time collaborators, were all well versed in the art of playing Western Swing, and the songs from the album were brought fully alive with the aid of a brilliant trumpet player (whose name I missed, as I did the names of the three other musicians. Sorry fellas).

Once again, Michelle Shocked rocked the night, and I still don't understand how she and her band were able to turn a 35 minute album into a concert that lasted almost 90-minutes. She did throw in a few extra songs, but still, it was a remarkable achievement. I can't wait to attend her third show later this month, at which she will perform the third album in her 'trilogy', Arkansas Traveler.

Above and Below: Historical information about New Haven.

Day 47: Tuesday 1, August | Expenses $50.50 ($63.50)

I embarked on my first real mystery tour of this trip, when I boarded a Metro-North Railroad train to New Haven, Connecticut, having picked up the train at the 125th/Park Street station for the 1:40:00 minute trip. The thing is though, that it wasn't until I took a close look at the route that I realized I would be leaving New York State and heading into the state of Connecticut. Or maybe I did know this, but had forgotten. Either way, there I was on a train speeding towards New Haven, and it occurred to me to take a Google Maps look at the city and see if there was anything of importance I should see or do while I was there. Imagine my second surprise for the day to find that not only is New Haven in Connecticut, but it is also the home of the world renowned Yale University.

In due course, the train arrived as scheduled, and I promptly hopped onto a shuttle bus for the free ride into the city centre. While on the bus it occurred to me to remain on it and get a free tour of the town as I completed its route. This I did, but was ultimately disappointed with a circuit that lasted barely 15-20 minutes. On my second go round I left the bus at New Haven's central square and wandered off to explore the area.

Click panorama to view full sized.  
The first thing I noticed is that the town square -- like all city squares -- is a magnet for the indigent, the unemployed and unemployable, the drifters and druggies, and for the families and their numerous children (who immediately gravitate towards the central fountain where they splash in and out of the water jets with loud screams of pleasure and excitement), and for workers on their lunch breaks, and for many other people like myself, who seem to have nothing better to do with their day.

The other universal thing about central town squares is the uniformity of the major buildings that stand around their edges. You will almost always find a Town Hall (or City Hall, as they are called in America), a courthouse, post office, one or more churches, large financial institutions such as banks or a major financial centre, a hotel or two, and other prominent buildings. All of the above were to be seen around, or close to the New Haven Green, to give the square its official title.

The beautiful City Hall building.

The United Church on The Green, at New Haven Green.

The very imposing U.S. Post Office and Court House Building.
As it happens, it wasn't hard to find Yale University since Yale's Old Campus borders one edge of the Green, and once in amongst this venerable institution's buildings, it was simply a case of following my eyes around the massive campus, checking out the most interesting buildings architecturally. And you can be sure there were plenty of those. Many of the oldest buildings would have made perfect settings for the Harry Potter stories, and lovers of Gothic architecture would have been in their element admiring the many beautiful examples of that classic style.

There were large groups of students, presumably Freshmen (and women), who appeared to be going through some type of orientation program to familiarize themselves with the university and its sprawling campus. There were also other large group tours taking place at the same time which included family groups with younger students who were presumably checking out the campus as a potential future learning center.

My brief research effort on board the train revealed several museums that might have been worth checking out, but I simply did not have enough time to even find one or two of them, let alone pay them a visit. However, during my campus wanderings I did see and enter the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the interior of which looked like no other library that I have ever seen.

On display in the library is a complete copy of the Gutenberg Bible, one of only 200 or so that were printed around the year 1455 by Johann Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. Of these 200, only 21 complete copies are known to still exist, although according to information provided by the library, some 26 incomplete copies and numerous fragments have also survived.

Above and Below: Exterior and interior views of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Above: One of only 21 known complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible. 

The End Of The Line Game
My little out of town jaunt was the result of a travel game I play far too infrequently, namely, the End Of The Line game. The rules of the game are quite straight forward; pick a form of easily accessible public transport such as bus, train or ferry; choose any available route as randomly as possible, and then ride that bus, train or ferry to the end of the line -- which should be a place you have never been. Once you are at your destination, you must spend several hours at least, exploring the surrounding neighborhood, village or town you have arrived at, before returning to the place from which you departed.

Oh, and one more thing - if you are a truly adventurous traveler, you should not conduct any research into the station at the end of the line, or its surroundings before choosing it as you final destination. However, once you have decided on that final destination, it would be wise to at least find out when the last bus, train or ferry is returning to your point of departure!

I am planning on at least one other round of the End Of The Line Game, but more on that in due course.

Monday 31, July | Expenses $101.40 ($127.10)
Tuesday 1, August | Expenses $50.50 ($63.50)

Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

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