Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Shinran Statue / Amiable Child Monument

A few weekends ago I was walking around Riverside Drive and decided to consult my Roadside America app to see if there was anything interesting in the neighborhood I hadn't discovered yet. I found two things that were close to where I was, the Shinran Statue and the Amiable Child Monument.

The Shinran Statue currently resides outside of a Buddhist church on Riverside Drive, but it once stood outside of a temple in Hiroshima, Japan. The statue managed to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, despite being located 1.5 miles from the center of the blast and was shipped to New York in 1955. It is definitely a statue that I might not have looked twice at if I was just passing by, but there are plaques explaining its significance, if you don't happen to scour apps for odd roadside attractions like I do.

Next I walked a few blocks north on Riverside Drive, right across from Grant's Tomb to see the Amiable Child Monument. "Thought to be the only single-person private grave on city-owned land in New York City," the monument was erected to commemorate a small boy who died in 1797. It was threatened with the construction of Grant's Tomb, but saved after the public objected.

The monument is small and a little hidden—I walked right past it a few times—but it's fenced off and has a historical marker plaque next to it. It is really odd to see a headstone all alone in the middle of New York. Nothing seems to last for very long here and it's hard to fathom how it has remained all these years when so many great buildings in the city have been demolished in the name of progress. There was a few coins, a stone and even a Hershey Kiss on the top of the stone when I visited. One of the iron bars of the fence was bent in a way that is extra creepy whenever gravestones are involved.

I am eternally grateful to live in a city in which a leisurely weekend stroll can include things that are a little bit historical, a little bit weird and always worth a stop.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Morbid Anatomy Museum: Collector's Cabinet

On Saturday JMP joined me for diner breakfast, a trip to the Morbid Anatomy Museum and post-museum pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which is pretty much my ideal Saturday (or any day). The Collector's Cabinet exhibit at the museum was closing on Sunday and I hadn't seen it yet but I'm so glad we went because it far exceeded my expectations.

Like the museum's previous exhibition, The Art of Mourning, the Collector's Cabinet occupied a single room but it was expertly curated and every piece was fascinating. I lost track of how much time we spent looking at, and photographing all of the curiosities, but I definitely could have spent all day in just that one room.

The centerpieces of the exhibit were two life-changing taxidermy dioramas, which more than deserve their very own post as soon as I'm done fully digesting how extraordinarily awesome they both were. They also had a neck tattoo in a jar, a fully-articulated skeleton, a very organized brush collection, wooden prosthetic arms, a plaster death cast, a talking skull, a two-headed calf and so many other weird and wonderful trinkets on display.

We also checked out the adjoining library space, which itself is packed with enough stuff to make a visit to the museum more than worth your time. I am so glad that I became a member back when the museum opened in June—not only because I now get in for free, but because never has there been a place so deserving of my support.

The museum has only gotten better since it opened and I was pleased to see so many people there on Saturday. Every one that works there is always so kind and helpful and the gift shop is full of books and housewares and art that I definitely don't need but so desperately want. I never thought there would be a place like the Morbid Anatomy Museum where all of my creepy interests are celebrated and nurtured and I already can't wait to go back.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nassau, Bahamas

The third and final port of our family cruise was in Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. I was surprised to find that Nassau was much more city than beach paradise, in fact I never did see a beach while we were there. The minute we left the ship, we were bombarded with people peddling everything—carriage rides, tours, taxis, t-shirts, jewelry—I was even asked on numerous occasions if I wanted my (very short) hair braided. I'm used to this kind of peddling in New York, but in Nassau it was concentrated and constant.

Once we got past the markets, the streets were beautiful in a gritty, sherbet-colored, sun-faded way. The first photo I took was of a door—blue, orange and yellow—and my mom looked at me and said "You're probably the only person who comes to the Bahamas and takes a photo of a door."

We walked around for a little bit before we had to meet the rest of our family for a glass bottom boat tour. I was actually expecting our boat to have a real glass bottom, but it was more like a few windows on the floor of the lower level, and now I'm not even sure if what I had expected is even physically possible (I should probably just stick to land-based adventures).

The tour took us in between the islands of New Providence (where Nassau is located) and Paradise. Paradise is the where the Atlantis resort is located, as well as some pretty elaborate celebrity homes (our guide pointed out the homes of Oprah, JK Rowling, Mary Kay, Elvis Presley, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Sean Connery). We stopped and creeped on a coral reef through the "glass bottom," which was pretty cool to see.

We saw what appears to be wreckage of some kind—a plane?—and a bunch of different fish, including really creepy needle-nose creatures, which further proved my theory that the ocean is a scary and crazy place, full of alien beings—best admired from a safe distance, preferably on land, in the shade and with a cocktail in hand.

Friday, March 27, 2015

365 Project: Days 79-85

79/365: The last day of our cruise was cold and rainy, which didn't stop me from eating three soft-serve cones (hands-down the best part of the cruise).

80/365: I celebrated my return to New York with a solo diner lunch and a walk through snowy (!) Riverside Park where I came across a most proper snow family.

81/365: I had a perfect Sunday: a sunny, chilly walk through Green-Wood cemetery where we saw the MacKay mausoleum (which has both heat and electricity), incredible buttermilk biscuits, a great House of Cards episode and more delicious food in between.

82/365: I bleached my hair again which means wearing a plastic bag on my head and getting wrinkly, white fingers.

83/365: After a day spent illustrating a dachshund for work (aka my professional peak), I met Jim for dinner next to a puppy store that had this adorable baby in its window.

84/365: I went to Target to buy clothes which means I left with nothing but Easter candy including a big bag of black jelly beans (my favorite).

85/365: I spent my morning assembling a classic New York breakfast made of paper, gifted to me by a co-worker who knows of my obsession with the "We are happy to serve you" cups.