Or at least that’s what New York City now claims to be, mostly in an effort to rebrand themselves favorably as part of their attempt to win the bid for the 2012 Olympics. Of course, it’s going to be a bit difficult without an Olympic Stadium a.k.a. the proposed Jets stadium in Manhattan.
But Olympics and slogans aren’t why I’m bringing up the city formerly known as the Big Apple. I’m bringing it up because I’ve had the good fortune to visit recently and I thought I’d share (not to mention return to the world of blogging after an only slightly less inexcusable hiatus). March 15-20 served as probably my sixth visit to the city, this time as a convention representative for the College Media Advisers Spring Convention. This was my first foray into the world of college media professional organizations, and I suspect it was no more self-indulging than any other legitimized networking vehicle.
Much more interesting to me, of course, was the city itself. I’ve been to NYC just enough times to claim I’ve seen most of the major tourist attractions but not quite enough to profess any kind of knowledge of the city, so I figured the best way to see the real Manhattan was to walk it. Yes, the whole island. So this became my goal. However, Tuesday night was all about exhaustion after an unconscionably early flight, Wednesday night we scored cheap seats to Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out, and Thursday night we walked some familiar areas and hit the Empire State Building to treat a co-worker who was experiencing his first time.
Friday Eric came into town to join me for the weekend and it wasn’t a moment to soon, as having seen Times Square and very little else by this point I found myself restless and dying to do something ridiculous. First insane move of the evening: we took the subway to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty, then walked to Wall Street, Ground Zero, City Hall, NYU, and up Broadway to Times Square. (Non-NYCers: that’s about 100 blocks). There we met one of my company’s vendors at the Pig and Whistle pub for some free drinks courtesy of our business relationship, and followed up with an Irish Pub Crawl that took us another 30 blocks before we turned around out of fear that the subway would close (which it doesn’t) or that we wouldn’t have had the strengh to make it back (which we wouldn’t).
Friday evening notes:
In Nashville, Irish pubs are where Americans go for a taste of Ireland. In NYC, Irish pubs are where the Irish go. I felt at times as though we needed a translator.
Much to our surprise, the Irish call it an Irish Car Bomb as well. Local Brit Tim Boyd swears it’s called something different in England though.
Also, Tim has been playing the message we left him that night to anyone willing to listen. For the record, I am not the one who professed his love to Tim, though I will claim attemping to leave the entire message in an Irish accent.
Somewhere in New York City, I think around the subway stop at 72nd and 9th, there is a 24-hour hot dog shop that sells 75-cent hot dogs. After a few pints I assure you they’re worth every penny.
Saturday was the most beautiful day of the year to date, and Eric and I decided to enjoy it by hiking to Museum Row and Central Park. We accidentally wandered into an over-hyped anti-war rally, but we weren’t worried because only about 200 people showed up from Harlem to march in the Million Worker March, leading us to question the effectiveness of their marketing slogan. We got as far north as Harlem, then turned around and walked the length of Central Park and then 5th Avenue back to the hotel. That evening we crashed a CMA Advisers reception for the free drinks then went down to South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge. Our Saturday night pub crawl started after we hiked around about 3 miles of public housing to East Village for drinks and NCAA basketball, then on to Greenwich Village for more of the same. This time I’d guess 150 blocks of walking or so, all in all.
Saturday evening notes:
Don’t miss Carnegie Deli. The sandwiches are not only a novelty but are also HUGE. I didn’t order the “Woody Allen” but I should have. The cheescake is also highly recommended. Word of advice: they don’t take plastic, as I wish we had descovered before it was time to pay.
East Village rocks. Lots of young people, recent college grads, artists, and places to eat and hang out. Well worth the hike. Like Times Square minus tourists, minus lights, minus tendency to become played too quickly, plus natives, plus awesome chill factor. Pickpocket risk is probably even.
Greenwich Village is okay, but too close to NYU for my liking. NYU’s bar crowd is full of wannabe tools, which is a bold statement coming from someone who works in a major breeding ground for actual tools. Tipping point: the trendy frat guys at Vanderbilt wear polos with their collars turned up; the desperation-trendy guys at NYU work the room to see how things are going, then if they’re disappointed they excuse themselves to the bathroom and return with collar turned up. Real discreet, gentlemen.
More on the tools representing NYU’s bar scene: At most bars or frat parties there is some standard of cool and people either choose to follow it or they choose to be independent and assume the risk. However, these guys kept experimenting with different styles of coolness in hopes that a leader would emerge, but when no one rose to the challenge they found themselves helplessly flailing about in search of their collective mojo. (Disclaimer: note that I’m passing unfair stereotypical judgment on the bar crowd only; NYU is too highly ranked to be devoid of independent intelligent thought en masse.)
To wrap up, Sunday consisted of lunch in Little Italy, a trip to Chinatown, a tour of the United Nations, and a plane ride back to Nashville. I must be getting old because it’s taken me four days to catch up from my trip, which partially explains my lengthy absence from all things blog-related. Nonetheless, it was a fun, fantastic trip largely courtesy of The Man (read: professional development funds) and after two adventureless months a worthy return to my favorite hobby.