A Kung Fu Christmas at the Algonquin

By anne
December 27, 2006 - 02:54.

After years of saying “someday,” I finally celebrated Christmas in New York City. No shows, no museums, no shopping. Just hanging out with Mom, Dad and youngest brother Peter at a few favorite haunts, including the historic Algonquin Hotel—a literature-lover’s oasis in Midtown Manhattan.

The Algonquin serves a $10,000 martini (over “ice” from the hotel’s in-house jeweler) and has been home to some of the world’s most colorful women, including Tallulah Bankhead, Angela Lansbury, and Dorothy Parker.

I like to have a martini. Two at the very most.
At three, I’m under the table. At four, I’m under the host!

—Dorothy Parker

Judging from our Christmas Eve celebrity sighting, the Algonquin also is a Kung Fu-friendly zone….

Remember the 1970s TV series Kung Fu and David Carradine’s half-American, half-Chinese character Kwai Chang Caine? I was 10 when that show started and I remember watching, mesmerized, as Caine went around doing good and uttering mysterious bits of ancient wisdom while bounty hunters chased him all over the American Southwest.

Thirty-plus years later, Caine—er, David Carradine—still trades on his yin-yang image as the guru on the mountain who finds answers at yellowbook.com.

This fact was not wasted on my mother when we spied Carradine, his wife Annie, and three daughters being seated for dinner in the Algonquin’s Round Table Room. While Dad and I strolled into the dining room to pose next to the literary luminaries of Natalie Ascencios’ painting


A Vicious Circle
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, Carradine made his way over to the cocktail lounge. He walked up to Mom and Peter. He asked, “Have you seen an airplane?”

Looking around at the floor as if he’d lost either an errant paper airplane or his grip on reality, the former Kung Fu, in an untucked plaid shirt, stood waiting for an answer. But no airplane had been spotted in the lounge at the Algonquin, so he went back to his dinner.

As we left to catch a cab for Brooklyn (destination: Peter Luger Steak House), Mom swung by the dining room for a parting word with Carradine. “Did you find your airplane?” she asked him.

“No,” he said, looking befuddled.

Mom paused. She smiled. “Well,” she said, “did you check the Yellow Pages?”

Bursts of laughter from the girls, one of whom said, “Now that’s a good one!” And with a toss of her bright red scarf, Mom sashayed out to the lobby. I could swear, looking back at the painting, that I saw Dorothy Parker wink.


My Mother’s Muse: Dorothy Parker…and Mom

For more NYC Christmas photos, click here.

What’s your favorite holiday destination? Tell me about it by clicking “Add new comment,” below. Don’t forget to send pictures!

December 30, 2006 - 02:31
anne says:

Epilogue:

While I enjoy my individualism, it’s also a bit of a thrill to discover my role in the big picture…especially in the Big Apple! According to an article on Yahoo.com (via Reuters), New York City hosted a record 44 million tourists this year, extending a steady increase in visitors since 2002 as the city has recovered from the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The article says that in 2006, travelers from Britain accounted for 1.2 million of the estimated 7 million foreign tourists, while the other 37 million visitors came from elsewhere in the United States. An estimated 1.25 million international travelers were visiting the city this week, between the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.

Nice to know that the staff at Peter Luger Steak House (and Josephina’s on Broadway, where we enjoyed our Christmas brunch) are among the people whose 350,000 livelihoods we tourists supported by being there.

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