Monday, September 27, 2010

My parents and the New Deal

I haven't been blogging this week because my parents were visiting me. I'd planned to make it up to all of you by making one epic update of their visit. It was going to be clever and interesting. It would have made you feel like you were there. It would have made you feel like you were my parents. Then again, a sizable percentage of my readers actually are my parents, which makes the whole process much easier. But yes...the post. I was going to do all of that, and I still plan to sort of, but I don't have pictures of much of it. This is entirely my own doing. For an aspiring photo-blogger, I all too often forget to charge my camera batteries. As it is, I now have to wait for pictures that others took. So this will be the largely photo-less update, although I do have a few photos, which I will sprinkle in thoughtfully.

The bulk of the activities of their trip, like the bulk of my time spent when people aren't visiting me, can be divided into two categories: eating and activities designed to work up hunger to eat again. One such activity, on our way to what would turn into an almost painfully good three course meal at the River Cafe was a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It seemed the ideal way to get to the restaurant as it is located directly on the East River underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. It was as if this wonderful feat of engineering was designed expressly to transport us to high-priced crab bisques and salted caramel chantilly. The only downsides with the plan: we showed up to a fancy restaurant with hair more than a little windblown, the planks on the bridge are just wide enough to allow high heels to slip into them, and, as it turns out, the bridge sails a good few blocks over the restaurant before allowing non-para-sailing bridge walkers the change to de-bridge. Nevertheless, the view is a pleasant one:For those readers who are, for whatever reason, unfamiliar with my parents and I--you shouldn't have trouble picking out the backs of our heads. We are, none of us, the guy on the bike.

Another fine way to work up an appetite is to visit museums, of which there are many to choose from in New York. We opted to see the American Museum of Folk Art (one of my personal favorites because I honestly enjoy kitsch), what can only be described as a "walk-by" of the Met, and the MOMA. I go to the MOMA a fair amount because I'm a member. They by and large have some pretty decent masterpieces on display. The large center room with ceilings extending to all six floors of the museum is currently showing a work of "art" by Yoko Ono. It's basically just a microphone with vague instructions giving people the option of "yelling into the wind." Perhaps it's because people are conditioned to not yell into a microphone in a huge, quiet museum or perhaps it's just because people don't like Yoko Ono, but I've never seen anyone actually use the microphone. Generally, they just walk around it, eying it warily. My parents and I were no exceptions.

The hallmark of our trip involved actually leaving the city. My parents wanted to see some fall foliage (something Houston is devoid of), so we journeyed into the Hudson River Valley to stay at a B&B. Sadly, the foliage wasn't quite ready to turn, but we did see several trees that had gotten an early start. We drove through the always cute towns of Cold Spring and Sleepy Hollow, but stayed in lovely Hyde Park.

Hyde Park is the home of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Museum and Library as well as the former Roosevelt estate. As such, we learned a lot about our former president. For example, did you know he used a rope pulley elevator to lift himself up to different floors every day? He didn't want an electric one because he had a lifelong phobia of fire (due to an actually very tragic story involving seeing his aunt burn to death in front of him) and didn't want to get stuck in the elevator in the event of one. He and Eleanor are buried on the estate with Scottish terrier Fala (full name: Murray the Outlaw of Falahill) and one other dog, while their kids are buried like six miles away. You can see where their priorities were. I did get some fun greeting cards at the New Deal Gift Shop. The next person who has a birthday is going to be the lucky recipient of a card with FDR in a toga.

Doesn't living in the Hudson Valley and World War II presidenting look fun?

But that's enough about the FDR estate which, coupled with walking the gardens of the Vanderbilt estate nearby, were really just excuses to work up an appetite for another multi course meal later in the day. This time we went to a student-run restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America (the other CIA), also located in Hyde Park. My mom thought her rabbit was a little cold, but otherwise it seems those kids could cook.

Okay, that's a sensible overview of my weekend. I promise to update more with pictures soon (those of my readers who have pictures of this trip currently on their memory cards can consider this a subtle nudge). I had a wonderful time, and I was glad they were able to come visit, even for such a short time. Thanks, parents!


  1. I will pass the hint along...

    Good job of reporting. When the pictures are available, you can talk about the High Line Park. The original drinks we tried out could make a whole other post. Heck, the ingrediants for one drink could just about make a post!

  2. The thing I had at the MOMA bar with ginger beer and jalapeno was interesting...but that's the only one I remember clearly.

  3. Excellent recap! Very intrigued about the FDR Toga birthday card. Sounds like you had a great weekend!