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Tuesday, March 29, 2005


xj About Town

Braving the Deluge, I went down to the West Village and had a Korean barbecue, then went in search of a bar called the Blind Tiger that my Lonely Planet guide assured me was all that. Remarkably enough for a venue listed in an LP guide, this bar actually exists. It's not so much a target-poor as a target-nonexistent environment (on a stormy Monday night at least) but I got into an interesting conversation with a marketing guy from Intel who was in town (from Boston) for a few days.

Woke up this morning feeling the effects of the rain and a beer called Brooklyn Pilsner, which is all right but has a rather odd aftertaste. The damn rain had stopped at least, so after checking my emails (I've cold-mailed a few agencies and I asked my friend Annabel to try to fix me up with an interview at her old bank here in NY - none of these people have got back to me yet however), I decided to do the sights.

I wandered vaguely around Chinatown and the edges of the Lower East Side for a couple of hours before breaking for some dimsum. (This was a weird experience. Portions were huge and for some reason, they didn't have soy sauce but did have Worcestershire. Fusion cuisine?)

Then down to the financial district. It's visually breathtaking, but it would take a better writer than me to make I wandered around photographing a load of very tall buildings interesting to the reader. The Wall Street area is the most crowded I've yet seen Manhattan, and even then the crowds are not half as dense as in London. (There are parts of la cita dolente, eg around Piccadilly or Oxford Circuses, that make me feel like I'm trapped inside Soylent Green. Yet another reason to leave...)

(I was expecting Wall Street to be bigger. Instead it's a narrow little canyon of a place. Of course a load of the big banks have moved uptown - Morgan Stanley and Bear Sterns, that I know of, and probably others).

Finally, I went up to the Frick collection, which is housed in the former mansion of the late Mr Frick. (And I don't know how he can have stood to live so ridiculously rococo a residence. It must have been like living inside a gold-plated cuckoo clock). The collection has the usual semi-talented Renaissance daubings. (Ever look at the faces on one of these Quattrocentro "masterpieces"? The expressions are nearly always inappropriate and often hilariously so. You'll find pictures themed "Adoration of the Magi" where the Magi have expressions of fixed disgust plastered across their features, or Pietas where the women look, on the whole, kind of relieved. I really don't see the point of Renaissance painting).

The Frick has, however, three treasures: three glorious Vermeers, snapped up by Old Man Frick back in the day when everyone thought Rembrandt was the Old Master and Vermeer was underrated. You'll find details of these magnificent paintings here, and all I will say is that the Officer and the Girl is simply beautiful.

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