The big city.

Max, Patrick and I went to New York City this week. We left on Monday afternoon, driving up to DC and taking the train to NYC. We stayed at Washington Square Hotel about a block from NYU, just north of Houston Street. On the first night, we met up with our friend Dario (an NYU film student) and went out drinking in SoHo. (Well, I had a beer. Everybody else drank considerably more.) At midnight, Max turned 21, and further celebrations commenced.

The next morning, we met our friend Stephanie (a graduate student at Columbia) at the Met to see the William Blake exhibit. There was also a fantastic Egyptian exhibit, which reminded me how out of practice that I am at reading Egyptian hieroglyphics. We walked a short distance to Max’s grandparents’ place, also on the Upper East Side. They took us out to lunch, where I had one of the better hot dogs that I’ve ever eaten.

Leaving Max’s grandparents, I convinced everybody that we should rent a row boat and tour one of the lakes in Central Park. (Patrick was especially reluctant to do this, for reasons that remain mysterious to me.) At Bethesda Foundation on the Lake, they were filming Stuart Little 2, which was kind of cool. We rowed around for a pleasant hour. We chased around some geese and lolled about in the ideal weather. I called Peter to point out that we were rowing in Central Park. He was suitably amused. We passed under Bow Bridge a couple of times, which is notably only because it appears in countless movies.

We left Stephanie to walk back to Washington Square Park. As we were on 81st Street, we figured that getting to 4th Street would take us at least an hour or so. But it would be a fine way to see the city, I thought. Our first planned stop along the way: the Empire State Building, on 34th Street. To get there, we passed through Times Square, which was rather ugly. MTV was filming Total Request Live, and the screams of fans could be heard from blocks around. There was a huge ad for Dave Matthews Band’s "Everyday." It was bizarre to see the guys 50′ tall in New York.

At the Empire State Building, Max and Patrick refused to go up. I assume that was because it would establish that they were tourists. They were, of course, tourists. But going up would confirm this, and they would feel less cool. So I paid my $9 and took the shockingly-fast elevator ride up top. The view was really quite incredible. It was nice to have a concept of the layout of Manhattan, which was something that I’d lacked previously. It looked much cleaner from 86 stories up. The Chrysler Building was very shiny. PCS service was quite poor.

We continued south, stopping at Zen Palate in Union Square for dinner. For meatless eating, it was really quite excellent. We continued south and eventually hit Other Music on 4th Street. Patrick and Max spent about an hour there, buying obscene amounts of music. Given that OM is across the street from Tower, they don’t bother with anything mainstream. As a result, they have some of the most esoteric, obscure music that you could ever hope for. Well, that one could ever hope for. I didn’t see a damned thing that I wanted.

Then we headed back north, to Irving Plaza. We met Stephanie Taylor there, and stood in line for a very long time. Doors were supposed to open at 7:30, but they didn’t until about an hour later. We were there to see Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band. When they did eventually start playing, they were quite good. There was singing into pickups and playing of guitar with a violin bow. Most unusual. The crowd was too much for me in the general-admission crush, so I mostly listened from just outside the doors. I’m a concert weenie like that.

The next morning we got bagels from some famous (and tasty) bagel place in the Village, and walked down to the edge of Chinatown so that Patrick could go to some store. We spent almost an hour at this place, which mostly sold knick-knacks that may or may not have been of Chinese origin. Everything from pornographic playing cards to Masterlocks, dried cuddlefish to chopsticks…it was all there. Max got bowls. Patrick got nothing.

From there it was a cab ride to the train station, a sleepy ride to DC, and a drive home. Not a bad way to spend a few days, and also not a bad way to see New York. I dislike it less than I used to, and I think I’d like to go back sometime soon.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »