Thursday, 24 September 2004

   Frank R. Hall and Associates
   382 E. Montecito Ave
   Sierra Madre, Ca 91024

As promised, here are some thoughts on our Christmas week trip with our friends Dick and Sally to New York City.

The weather was cold, but, we returned home before the great blizzard struck. We had snow one day, Friday the 22nd, but it didn't seem to deter the New York Christmas shoppers who were standing in line to get into 5th Avenue stores like FAO Schwartz and Tiffany. The day before we left to come home it was 15F at Noon, a little nippy for a stroll.

We saw The Lion King, which we thought fell short of its rave reviews. The staging was terrific and costumes unique, but the music was only so so. I think it's the kind of thing you want to take your grandchildren to see, but, don't be surprised if they recognize the plot as "Bambi revisited". We also saw the Radio City Music Hall's Rockette Christmas show which is wonderful. The Rockettes are always great and the show includes a very moving recreation of the Christmas story complete with live camels and sheep.

We are convinced the best food in the world can be had in New York. Among the more memorable meals were:

1. Breakfast at the "14 Wall Cafe" J.P. Morgan's headquarters was at 14 Wall Street and his former office on the 31st floor has been converted into a restaurant. The ambiance, historical significance and very good food made this a memorable experience.

2. Dinner at the River Cafe at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Great food and the most spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline you'll ever see. Very expensive!!

3. Brunch at the Waldorf on Christmas Eve day. The most fabulous spread you ever saw, but, if you have to ask what it costs you can't afford it.

We didn't meet a single person who admitted voting for Hillary Clinton. The Times was running a series of articles lambasting her for her Book Deal and for buying the D.C. mansion. Maureen Dowd did a column on Hillary's Hollywood friends who were doing a fund raising effort to give her expensive household gifts before she takes office and is prevented from taking them.

We met some interesting people driving cabs. One 40 year old man from Bangladesh told Dick his parents had finally selected a bride for him and he was saving money to go home to meet her, wed her and bring her back. Life is simple for Bengalis even in the Big Apple.

We took tours of the New York Stock Exchange and NBC Studios. We were struck with the strength of the Capitalist System and the phony illusion of television broadcasting. If it glitters, it's probably gold paint on plywood.

Christmas Day Sally, Pat and I went to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. TV News had reported the Mass would start at 11 AM, while it actually had started at 10:15. But, we were moved by the majesty of it even if we weren't there in time for the collection. Darn!

We took a tour of the City on our last day. What struck us was how the "Pop Culture" has taken over the minds of the public. The first and longest stop of the tour was at the townhouse where John Lennon was shot - from there we were led on a walk to see his Memorial in Central Park. We were then whisked past the place where Lincoln made his first speech as President and Washington made his inaugural address with no time to linger. The homes of Mia Farrow and Robert Redford were part of the tour, but, not those of the
Astors, Morgans or Guggenheims.

A couple of final thoughts. New York at Christmas is crammed with people from all over the world, we were told it is the number one tourist destination during Christmas week now that the Holy Land is in turmoil. It is clean and safe and most everybody we met from places like Munich and Ankara were having a wonderful time and spending lots of dollars to help the American economy.

Thank you Rudy G. Thank you NYPD. We hope to come back soon.

And, we hope you all have a wonderful New Year.



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