Friday, April 29, 2011

Pompeii the Exhibit and Dallas BBQ

We get to the Times Square theatre district a lot (unsurprisingly usually to attend the theatre). We were there again yesterday but this time on a slightly different quest. We went to attend Pompeii the Exhibit: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius at the Discovery Center. We should have stuck with the theatre.

The exhibit includes films about Pompeii, both historic and present day; artifacts taken from the site; and – the high point - plaster body casts created from the spaces remaining after the bodies of Pompeii’s victims, covered in volcanic ash, had completely decayed. The films were rather pedestrian and the artifacts not much to write home about but the body casts were relatively impressive (pun intended), sort of a cross between life-size death masks and George Segal statuary commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

Sue has a particular interest in archaeology and the Pompeii excavations were something of a watershed moment in the history of the science so she was especially eager to see this exhibit. But she ended up sharing my disappointment. Overall, the exhibition was underwhelming and poorly curated. Distinctions between replicas and originals were not always apparent and informational and educational materials were wanting. New York City is home to some of the world’s great museums - the Metropolitan, MOMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History - and a special exhibit outside their purview such as this has to go quite a ways in order to compete effectively. Pompeii the Exhibit didn’t.

Still the day wouldn’t turn out to be a total failure. When we left the Discovery Center at about 5 PM, we strolled two blocks over to 42nd Street, just in time to catch one of the city’s true remaining food bargains: the Early Bird Special at Dallas BBQ (offered until 5:30 PM). Admittedly, this is not gourmet dining, the restaurant is crowded and noisy and if you’re looking for ambience, you won’t find it here. But the chicken is delicious – head and shoulders above what you’ll find in fast food joints – and the price simply can’t be beat.

A dinner consisting of a cup of chicken vegetable soup, half a rotisseried chicken, corn bread, and your choice of baked potato or an enormous portion of French fries or rice costs just $6.99. Bring your spouse or a date or a friend and dinners for both of you are priced at an even steeper bargain price of $10.99 for two! Another good reason – not that I needed any – that I’m glad Sue was with me (just kidding, dear.) Add tax and tip and we still got away with less than $14 for dinner for two. Hard to see how you can beat that.

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