For me, bringing in the new year has gone from an event I adored (without much knowing why) as a child to an event which, as an adult, I now view as the ticking away of my years. It causes me to reflect back on where I was on January 1st the year prior, and then to realize that my life is not improving, though I am getting older and slowly playing into the cold hands of death and futility. So, I decided to welcome in 2009 with a little more pizazz, i.e. distract myself enough to keep from looking back on my past. And, of course, to make the event memorable enough so that when future New Year’s Days roll around, at least I’ll have something chipper to look back upon.
Enter my plan to head to New York. At first, I made this plan as only a four-day weekend, but I soon realized the folly of that. New Year’s Eve, after all, was on a Wednesday. It cannot be enveloped in a four-day weekend from either side. Then I figured since I’d be in New York, I might as well have a look at one of my major prospect schools at this point, The City College of New York. The last tour of the scholastic year just happened to be in the afternoon of Monday, December 29th. So my dates were set: 29 December to 3 January. And thus it begins.
Monday, December 29th – Normally I don’t have a problem getting to sleep before leave, but I had really procrastinated on my packing and on studying up on the New York metro system. Then I started reading a lot of http://www.wikitravel.org, and I basically achieved about 40 minutes of shut-eye Sunday night before my early morning flight (a departure time of 5:40 a.m.) I had a short layover in Charlotte; no biggie. Finally, I got to La Guardia sometime near nine, whence I had to take the bus to the subway. I took the bus to the corner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards in Harlem. I thought about taking a picture but I wasn’t really sure how the locals would respond to a corn-fed honkey from Iowa doing so. I got to my hostel, and despite some bad reviews on http://www.hostelworld.com, it seemed pretty clean. As it was, I had three Japanese roommates, one guy and two ladies. I went on a tour of City College in the afternoon after grabbing a quick bite to eat from a Spanish Harlem deli. I liked the way the school looked, and I may just go there next year. I decided to trek down to Times Square to reconnoiter the area before the big bash on Wednesday night. The Toys R Us there has a Ferris wheel in the middle of the store and a T-Rex on the second floor, moving about and roaring at all the kids. Three levels of crazy, mostly useless fun stuff. Charmin has some real estate in Times Square that is used only as a public bathroom to help promote their product. The lines were very long, so I guess it must be working. Either that or the fact that there are really no other public restrooms available. I went back to the hostel pretty early to get some well needed rest, especially considering my prior lack of sleep.
Store officials tell me that it now only
devours about one small child per hour.
Sure there’s a Ferris wheel, but where
are the funnel cakes and cheap beer?
Tuesday, December 30th – My Japanese roommates woke me up at six in the morning with their hello kitty alarms. I decided to try to go to Greenwich Village after my failed attempt the previous night. I just wandered around a lot of odd shops trying to find some unique gifts. I stumbled upon Washington Square Park, which was mostly closed off by construction. You could still go up to the big archway, though it was doomed to be less impressive during the day. I walked over to East Village for lunch, and went into a Ukrainian restaurant. I have no idea what it was that I really ate there, but it tasted alright. I went to a lot of other stores in the East Village, but I didn’t really see much else interesting. Still, I had a good time just getting out and about. After awhile I tried to go to the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park. I finally got in and saw lots of Greek and Roman stuff, but they closed early. By now it was dark, and I was on the east side of town needing to get to the west side. For some reason I walked through Central Park like a fool; it took forever. I finally arrived back to the hostel, changed my socks, and took a quick breather. I decided to have dinner at a nice corner diner near 79th and Broadway. Then I went to see some infamous New York stand-up comedy; I don’t remember most of the comics names, but they were good. Rich Vos was among them. I capped off the night at Times Square again. I had a beer at nice Irish pub, and talked to the bartender a little. He gave me some tips on New Year’s Eve at Times Square. He tells me the area gets cordoned off by the police, and remarks that it’s best to get in before six p.m. I went back to the hostel and crashed.
Finally, some good news!
Washington Square Park – It’s like the difference between night and day.
Wednesday, December 31st – I woke up pretty late New Year’s Day, but I figured this would be a good thing since I’d be staying up late as well. I decided to spend my early afternoon at the World Trade Center site. When I got near I stopped at the Essex World Cafe on Liberty Street for some food before I went into the World Trade Center tribute museum thingy place. I had an excellent Ruben at the cafe. The tribute center was a very sobering experience; many of the items were almost too painful to look at or read. I found myself turning away several times before the tears welling up in my eyes could cut paths down my face. I went on a walking tour around the site with an ex-firefighter who was there that day, and he shared his particular story with us whilst we walked around the site. The site had a lot of construction going on about it and actually had a very different, much less somber feeling from the museum. I left there around 4:30 to go to Times Square, trying to keep the advice of arriving by 6 given to me by the friendly barkeep the evening before. I got there by about 5, but the line to get in was already big, and this was at 52nd Street, 10 streets down from the ball drop. Once inside and on 5th Avenue, I realized the utter futility of the scenario. It was crowded, significantly boring, and above all, cold. I figured I would try to take 6th Avenue down to 42nd Street to see if I could see the ball from outside the cordon, and if that did not work I planned to go to Central Park. Instead, I found a bar on 51st Street in Radio City, the Heartland Brewery. It was fantastic. I drank heavily. I talked it up with two guys who used to be from Memphis, but now one of them stays in Brooklyn. A third guy came in who knew them and the four of us talked loudly to one another. Turns out he was actually the bar’s general manager, and he ended up giving me free drinks for the most of the rest of the night (though by this point I was already drunk enough to slow down considerably). I talked to a San Antonian couple who had given up on the Square as I had. Then I talked it up with two Mexican chicks. One of them, Monica, essentially spoke no English, and her friend acted as a sort of translator, albeit with great mediocrity. Still, she did better than I could do con mi muy mal espanol. We chatted in the bar until very close to midnight, when we ran out into the street to see the ball drop. I made out with Monica on the street as we walked from the bar back onto Fifth Ave (I have no idea how we got back through the cordon). I was fucking hammered to a great degree. Despite her small stature, Monica kissed me with unprecedented ferociousness, and we made out like lions. This continued until we got outside her hotel. I could not get in without a hotel ID, and besides, her friend was being a good friend to her in that she was doing well to cockblock me. I consider this the best possible scenario, for a woman who behaved as she did may be of questionable virtue. I wandered the streets a bit more and ended up taking the wrong subway a couple of times. It was fucking cold outside though, even for a drunk man. I wandered back to the hostel and found one of my Japanese roommates up. We talked the drunk talk of politics and humanity, expanding each other’s horizons by shedding light on our own worlds to one another. At four o’ clock, I passed out. Happy New Year.
WTC Tribute Museum
This wall of missing persons posters, along with
another room that contained a massive collage
of family photos of lost loved ones, really tore me up.
The Winter Garden at Two World Financial Center
Fuck! Way too crowded and way too cold.
Good thing every organ in my body was
soaked in alcohol from the fine, microbrewed
beers found only at Heartland Brewery.
Thursday, January 1st, 2009 – This felt like mostly a wasted day here for me. Naturally, I woke up with a hangover. I took a long shower then headed out to find breakfast (at about one p.m.). I stopped at an interesting looking Greek place near 78th and Broadway. I devoured some egg dish, washing it down with lots of juices, waters, and a tea. It didn’t annihilate my hangover, but it did fatally wound it. I headed out to get a coat to supplant my measly jacket because it was so fucking cold. The weather had not recovered from the evening before it seemed. I was still feeling kind of shitty until I got to the ESPN Zone in Times Square around five p.m. to check out the Rose Bowl. I left at halftime since USC was beating up on PSU pretty hard, 31-7. I went to Grand Central Station and took some pictures there. I tried to snag some pictures of the nearby Chrysler building as well. Then I headed to the Empire State Building. There was a lot of waiting in lines. As soon as you got out of one line, you got into another. There was a line to get in line for tickets, then there was a line to turn in one of your tickets, then there was a line to go into a hall where there were more lines. After that, I probably only had to wait through about half a dozen more lines before I actually got to the observatory. It was twilight when I got there, however, and the naturalistic dark backdrop of the night was a perfect canvas for the lights of the city. Far and wide, the city seemed to stretch endlessly into every direction, cut up only by the tidal straits and the Hudson River surrounding Manhattan. A glorious view indeed, to see what man has accomplish on his patch of dirt here. Also, it was blisteringly cold, even with my new coat on. I left after probably 30 minutes in the observatory, to wait in line for elevators going down. Without a good way to finish out the night, I noticed that Heartland Brewery had another location in the ground level of the Empire State Building. Also, the Orange Bowl was on. I made quick friends with the bartender and her visiting aspiring actress friend from LA and got hooked up with a couple of free drinks, and watched the Bearcats throw away any hope of winning against Virginia Tech by committing 4 turnovers. I met two international students from Saudi Arabia who were rooting for Tech; as I was hoping for a Cincinnati upset, we found ourselves in a friendly back-and-forth. Cincinnati lost, the bar closed, and I made my way back to the hostel.
This is the kind of McDonald’s that requires
a reservation and a suit & tie to get in.
Dude, I am so high right now…
Friday, Jan 2 -I awoke fairly early, relatively, and decided to go to Chinatown to pick up some souvenirs. I spent a good deal of time down there. I also ate some food in Chinatown restaurant that ended up disagreeing with me later on in the evening. I actually spent most of the early afternoon in Chinatown. I went back to the hostel to drop of my souvenirs and noticed that I had three new roommates, this time from the Netherlands. We chatted a little bit. I then decided to spend the late afternoon wandering around Central Park. Saw some neat shit, like the Belvedere Dragon. Then I wandered down Fifth avenue, saw the Rockefeller Center, the giant Christmas tree, the Pond and its giant Christmas tree, and other items of interest. Upon the advice of a friend, I decided to eat at Del Frisco’s on 6th Avenue. I settled in for what I knew was to be a very expensive, very exquisite meal. Starting with the turtle soup and bread, I had lamp chops with asparagus and cauliflower & brie au grautin as sides, while I enjoyed a glass of a nice Zinfandel-Syrah mix. I capped the meal with a cappuccino and a slice of strawberry cheesecake that was so good it was as if I was getting fellatio from an angel. Total damage: $140. How do I rate it? Better than sex. Well, better than bad sex anyway. Out of all the things I’ve spent $140 on, that was easily the most edible. Following that, I went to Times Square, though I’m not sure why I did. Whilst there I did buy some comedy tickets, however, and then left almost immediately. I headed out to Greenwich Village to do some bar hopping before the stand-up started. I got to the comedy club pretty early, and was seated near the front. Justin Silver emceed the show, and Godfrey was the headliner. As a single person, the talent poked fun at me a good bit. Some of them made it their “mission to get [me] laid” that night. They had failed. I talked with some of the comedians for a short while following the show. Then I went bar hopping for a little bit with two chicks from Brooklyn. They went home at about two leaving me to my own bar hopping devices. I settled at one bar and stayed until it closed at about 4 a.m., knowing it would be my last carefree times in NYC for at least a little while. I left for the subway, but since it was so late the trains were taking forever. I finally arrived back to the hostel at 6 a.m. I didn’t have anytime to sleep, but really only to pack my bags and go. Even though I accidentally woke up one of the Dutch boys, he played it as a good sport and wished me a good flight.
Almost immediately after I took this picture,
Atlas shrugged and dropped the globe onto a woman
reading The Fountainhead, killing her instantly.
One of the many subway stations in New York City; there’s
always enough vomit and homeless to go around.