Guess What I Saw?
I have two editions of the 111 Places… guidebooks and wanted to check off some spots in the Brooklyn one and move closer to 20 out of 111 spots. One apparently ideal place was a mausoleum at Green-Wood Cemetery. Much like Central Park, Greenwood’s size makes exploring it all in one-day difficult. Several subway lines abut its many entrances, yet my visit back in the Fall was by the R subway stop. Cemeteries in general can be a morbid tourist attraction. Green-Wood’s website allows you to search for a certain person’s resting place.
However, the visitor’s map points out a unique feature about the cemetery: creating your visit, not just to visit gravesites of famous people like Leonard Bernstein or Laura Keene (The actress onstage at Ford’s Theatre when Lincoln got shot) but natures walks, monument sightings.
One of the first things I saw was a monument to the Battle of Brooklyn, which took place the American Revolutionary war. Bernstein was buried a few feet away; as a lover of his music, that brought a thrill of its own.
A recent work trip to the Hague left me time to explore the city. Located less than an hour by train from Amsterdam, it’s best known as the seat of the International Criminal Court where war criminals get sent (unfortunately, there are a good number of people who deserve to be there but…). Guidebooks and the city’s website list some great ideas to explore the city. For me, the main branch of the city’s library seared into my mind as the highlight.
The first floor has a wonderful tourist office and souvenir shop. The cashiers could not have been more pleasant. The view from the café windows let you see the trams, cyclists or pedestrians clearly, providing an unobstructed area from which to people watch.
The top floor has an extensive music collection, my real reason for initially visiting. My enthusiastic amateur piano skills got to use the electric piano, trying to play the sheet music to “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (complete with Dutch translation, which did not make the song easy to learn) that I had bought from a flea market earlier in the weekend. It’s a first-come, first-serve basis, so be prepared to wait just in case. There is a traditional piano as well, which requires a small rental fee to reserve and play. I spent a great deal of free time looking through scores; finding the score to Massenet’s Le Cid sent me rushing to the copier.
During my time there, Elsewhere Tours offered an expansive and detailed tour of the city's downtown.
Barbes, deep in Park Slope, Brooklyn, hosts a variety of musical acts each night. I have come out here on the first Friday of every other month for several years to see Opera on Tap. A group of classically trained singers compile a concert of art songs/arias according to a certain theme. Friday's concert focused on songs from the Belle Epoque period, or pieces that matched the same kind of spirit. The singers' enjoyment distinguishes their events. This manifests through costumes (many wore customary berets along with their assumed malaise). The Les Chemins de l'Amour interpreted by Alex Guerrero and the Edith Piaf torch song Je ne regrette rien, sung by Joanie Brittingham, stood out for me. Chris Berg, the group's pianist, served as a solid straight man to the occasional silliness.
Tucked deep in Astoria lies The Noguchi Museum, dedicated to celebrate Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi. I have passed the museums for years, only to visit it due to the book 111 Places in Queens that You Must Not Miss. Turns out I was only the fifth person to have visited it due to the book. The museum was built during the artist's lifetime and continues to highlight different aspects of his work. The current exhibit focuses on the design method Akari that he had patented, which will be up until early mid-April.
Hello, this blog serves to bring up artistic/cultural events/museums that seem to get little attention. Hope you enjoy it once it gets rolling.
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