Jan. 28th, 2010

eurodancemix: (Lady Gaga)
Wow, I can't believe it's already been almost a week since the trip and I'm finally getting a chance to post about it.

Last Friday morning, Eric/[livejournal.com profile] ermago and I got up at 3:30 AM. Ugh, I know! We got dressed, took Aspen out for her walk and headed out to the BWI Amtrak station at 4 AM. Yup, we took the train! It was my first time on a train in 33 years (last time being in 1976 when I was on a class trip from Montreal to Ottawa to go to the National Science & Technology Museum).

We were worried because there had been sleet and frozen rain during the night. Fortunately, the temps had warmed up just enough so that the roads were clear and everything had melted. We arrived at the train station around 5:15 AM, well ahead of our 6 AM departure. Honestly, getting on a train couldn't be easier, and I was quite suprised at the lack of security. I expected to have my bags searched. Oh well.

The trip from Baltimore to NYC is definitely not scenic. But it's efficient and it's definitely my new way to travel up there: no traffic, no gas, no wear & tear on the car, no tolls, no dealing with speeding truckers, and (most of all) no driving in NYC itself and its ridiculous parking prices! We arrived around 9 AM at Penn Station. We took a cab to our hotel, the Hilton New York on 6th Avenue, which is a block away from Radio City Music Hall where Lady Gaga would be performing the following evening. The hotel clerk was very nice and allowed us to check in early. We dropped our bag off (we had a massive duffel bag) and headed out for an awesome breakfast at the Astro, one block over:


After that, we decided to walk over to Rockefeller Plaza and do the Top Of The Rock tour. On our way there, we passed by Radio City Music Hall. Guess whose tour bus we spotted?




After that little moment of insanity, we continued on to Top Of The Rock. That was a very nice diversion and it provided an excellent view of the city.




We also did the NBC Studios Tour. Very interesting. We got to see where Brian Williams does the NBC Nightly News (we were told the tricks they use to make his little desk seem so much bigger) as well as the SNL studio (*very* small for all the people and skits they pack in). At the beginning of the tour, I spotted a one-of-a-kind piece by one of Eric's favorites artists, Fazino. It was commissioned especially for NBC.

Eric and I also got a taste of fame and celebrity: we played anchor and weatherman. It was fun. I think I'd be terrific as a weatherman. I'll post a video of that later. :-)

After the tour, we got on the subway and headed out to the Village where we shopped at Bleeker Street Records (Gaga picture discs!) and had lunch at Wogies (which is where we also had lunch two years ago when we came for my birthday). After lunch, we headed to Times Square. The huge neon Virgin Megastore sign is still there, though the store is gone. It looks like the space will be filled by a clothing store called Forever21. We bought two tickets for a presentation of Hair that night at the Al Hirschfield Theater. We headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit.

Hair turned out to be a major crapfest. Neither of us liked it. I had no idea it was that bad, and can't understand how it could have won awards of any kind. The cast was talented, I won't deny that, but the material they had to work with (no plot for the first 40 minutes?) was below par. For some reason the rest of the audience liked it, so I guess it must be us. We were ready to leave during the intermission, but decided to stick it out in case it got better. Ha! No such luck. We didn't pay full price for the tickets, but at $70 each, it's still an investment. At least we can say we've seen it. Once is enough, trust me.

After that fiasco, we went for a late dinner at Junior's. Eric's brisket sandwich (minus the bread) was delicious. My sandwich (turkey reuben) was dry and not good at all. I even had problems with the strawberry cheesecake. I guess it just wasn't my night. We went back to the hotel, where Eric crashed and I stayed up for a bit watching TV.

The next morning, we decided it was culture and museum day. We started our day at the Museum of Sex.

Very interesting, and not just because they show porn movie clips. Their exhibits offer a fascinating view on our culture's clashingly conservative and permissive views on the subject. Everything from the early burlesque days to 50's stag films to some of today's most unusual fetishes. They also have some very, um...interesting mechanical items on display.

After that, we headed back to Times Square for the Leonardo DaVinci exhibit at the Discovery Center. Very interesting and completely mind-blowing...the man's inventions and his thought process are absolutely fascinating.


After our day of culture, we stopped at an Irish restaurant, whose name I forget, for a late lunch. Food was good, but I'm glad we had a discount certificate for it. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel, quite tired. We had a few hours before the concert, and we wanted to rest. We ended up watching "Titanic" until the ship sank...it was already 7:15 PM by then and we needed to head out for the concert.

As we approached the theater, it was about 7:20 PM at the time, there was pandemonium outside. There were throngs of people waiting at the front doors, waiting to buy tickets I assumed, though the show was sold out. Ticket holders had a special line on the side of the building, and we were quickly whisked inside. Radio City Music Hall is beautiful, I must say. Before heading to the mezzanine, we entered a contest for a very cool prize: a phone call from Lady Gaga during the concert. (We didn't win.)

The opening group was a local NYC band called Semi Precious Weapons. They were a very hard rock/punk band that was quite out-of-place with Gaga's audience. They also sucked big time. The second act was an R&B artist by the name of Jason Derulo. We'd never heard of him before, but the teenage girls around us sure did! He wasn't bad, though there was too much reliance on a vocoder and a couple of his riffs were taken from other songs.

Lady Gaga eventually came on around 9:15 PM. The crowd went wild! Her audience was surprisingly diverse: there were the requisite teen girls and gay men, but there were also a lot of adults in the 45+ range that you don't normally associate with pop concerts (I spotted a couple of grandparents, too!). Reports that I've wet myself upon seeing the Gaga are greatly exaggerated, though I did mentally squeal like a little girl. She opened with "Dance In The Dark" and closed with "Bad Romance."

She performed the entire Fame Monster album, plus all four hits from The Fame, as well as three lesser songs from that album. The woman was on stage for almost two hours. The stage was simple: three rear screens, strobe lights, and a front silk screen for projecting overlays. Simple, but effective...she makes very good use of the space she has. There were plenty of costume changes, none of which were particularly outrageous, though they were all quite colorful. Her voice was in terrific shape, and I appreciated the occasional accapella singing as well as the newly-orchestated versions of her hits. Her dance moves aren't the greatest, but I'd rather have a talented singer perform live holding a microphone than a movy-groovy person who lipsynchs and wears a headset.

After the concert, we quickly left the venue to go grab some dinner. We settled on Lindy's Deli. We were both quite hungry and getting cranky. Service was incredibly slow but the food was delicious. A group of four French-Canadians were seated next to us, so we enjoyed listening in on their conversation, at least I did. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was about 1:15 AM, and Eric just crashed. For some idiotic reason, I was wide awake, so I watched TV for a little bit before finally crashing myself about an hour later.

We got up around 7 AM on Sunday, got ready and headed to Penn Station for our train. We made it there around 8:15 AM, grabbed some Tim Horton's coffee, had breakfast, and boarded our train at 9 AM.

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

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