It’s Easter and we almost forgot about this fact. Luckily, Luna is not the age yet that she would realize all the crazy New Yorkers and even crazier tourists wearing bunny ears and carrying Easter Eggs around. So this year, we skip the commercial part of the holiday – probably for the last time in our lives as parents.
Instead, Bianka, our guest for several days, suggests to visit a gospel concert. Harlem ought to be a good place for that. It’s Easter Saturday and the four of us head out to Mt Olivet Baptist Church to listen to ‘real’ Harlem Gospel music. Even before the very first tone doubts among us aris whether the concert would be baby-friendly enough for Luna to attend it without any hearing protection. Needless to say, it isn’t and I voluntarily agreed to leave with Luna to have walk through Harlem. The weather was great that day.
One hour and dozens of photos later, Lê calls telling that she and Bianka left the concert early as well. Too loud, too drafted, too touristy, too many “please post your photos on instagram”s. We probably should have known before as the audience was mainly white.
In the afternoon we decide to strike a Must See at New York from our bucket list – the High Line. The High Line is a former elevated railway track in south-west Manhattan. It was abandoned for some time until a group of people calling themselves “Friends of the High Line” started to redesign the 2.3km long track as an urban garden, artistic architecture experiment and retreat walkway. Today, the High Line has long been finished. The good weather attracted probably thousands of guests and the walkways are heavily crowded. Not that relaxing.
Personally, I’m not fully impressed by the High Line yet. Maybe it’s the time of the day and the light that kept me from making great photos or it’s the stress caused by all the visitors, I don’t know. I’ll probably come back when the light is more charming and less people are around. And another photographer’s tip: The southern section in Chelsea is much more scenic than the north. So better start over there!
The Apollo Theater at 125th St in Harlem is where superstars are born. During its long history, many artists who performed in the Amateur Night event – which is still held today – became world stars: Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson with The Jackson 5, and Jimmy Hendrix are only some of those.
We have tickets for the premiere of a theatrical performance of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book is written as a letter to the Black author’s son and tries to reflect on how it is to grow up in a world of white supremacy. This night, tickets for the event are sold out. The steep theater hall is warm and crowded. Right before the performance starts, the last guests take their places. Then the band starts. The band plays a mesmerizing piano-led intro. Then six actors read sections from the book. Visuals and music from the band intensify the deep rift between whites and Blacks that Ta-Nehisi Coates vociferates in each of his words. After two hours it’s the author himself who finalizes the event reading another section of his book.
One quote that’s still on my mind is (in my own words):
The day after the performance, sad news spread. Police just shot dead a black man at Brooklyn for pointing a pipe on pedestrians and a police officer. He was known as being mentally ill.
With Bianka as our trustful babysitter we are able to regain some outdoor nightlife again. Even if it’s only for one night and actually only until 11pm. So after leaving Apollo Theater we directly head over to the famous Red Rooster bar. Actually, Red Rooster is another evidence for Harlem’s gentrification. But anyway, the bar is well-known for its delicous food and (of course) fancy drinks. President Barack Obama once hired the chef of Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson, to organize and execute his first State dinner. In the aftermath, Obama visited Red Rooster officially again for fund-raising events.
Loud jazzy DJ music is in the air when we enter Red Rooster this night. The bar is crowded. So is the restaurant. We grab a chair at the bar and realize that there are no non-alcoholics on the menu. But in consideration of the price for a single drink it’s ok for me to share a small sip with Lê. I choose an Obamatini. A drink named after its most famous guest. The vodka-based mixture of grapefruit, lime and spices is topped by an orange peel and tastes interesting enough to forget about the $15 we paid for it… plus tip and taxes, of course.