NYC - Ride In, Stumble Out

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The cab ride was surprisingly uneventful. Disappointingly so, even though our ride out would compensate for this. We took the Queensboro tunnel and wound up right on 34th St, which is home to the Empire State Building, Macy's, and the New Yorker, our hotel in Midtown-west. In fact, our hotel was also right beside Madison Square Gardens and also the Hammerstein Ballroom, where the Pixies were playing their final show of the tour on Saturday night as well as a show every night of our stay in the city.

The view from our room
Dan was paranoid about them being upset or not allowing five people in our suite, so he & Darren stayed at Starbucks across the street while Kurt & I checked in. The lobby was nice, but when we got to our floor, we were a little worried about what to expect. The carpet, walls, and everything looked worn, to be polite about it, and we made the trek to our room somewhat skeptically. Our fear, it turns out, was entirely unfounded, as our non-smoking suite (we managed to get it switched from smoking no problem) was quite acceptable, spacious, and clean. From out the window on the 24th floor we could see the Chrysler Building, Madison Square Gardens, and all the surrounding towers.

We put down our bags, got set for hitting the town, and switched spots with Dan & Darren at Starbucks. Sitting at the bar I talked to a local (originally from Trinidad) a stool down from me who was also into music, though "urban alternative" was the label he gave himself. He'd recorded with Beyonce, but seemed pretty genuinely into his own art, so full marks there. We talked a bit about music and what it takes to get anywhere and life in the city, and then parted ways. A very nice guy, and, given his work with Beyonce, we labelled him quasi-famous.

My intended itinerary for the trip: Wednesday, meet quasi-famous person; Thursday, pseudo-famous; Friday, famous; Saturday, become famous; Sunday, fly home, get mobbed in airport. We were on track.

Times Square
We didn't want to go too far as Jon was to arrive later in the evening, so we walked up to Times Square which was incredible and larger than I'd imagined. We popped into Toys 'r Us to get a photo for Mariah and Kurt wound up buying a toy for his nephew. I forget who it was, but someone was starving and really wanted to eat soon, so I just went along with it and we wound up eating at TGIF in Times Square. Waiting upstairs, a really pretty girl with an incredible smile was sitting down and we made eye contact/exchanged a smile, which is always great, though she was likely just polite. We then wound up sitting right next to her and her... brother?

Burgers: $14. Pints: $10. Even the waitress made fun of the prices but got Darren his double for the price of a single and the rest of us found out our beer was on 'special'. To make conversation with cutie, I asked what she was having as it looked good (lies! lies!). It worked though, and we had a good chat with here and her ... distant relative? It turns out that she's a dancer and was invited to be on Letterman Friday with her friend. She asks us to watch and Darren asks her to mention Saskatoon when she falls and/or maims Paul. They had been on Letterman Tuesday night and seen the Pixies as well. Grrr.

Who knows what was true of what they said though, as she denied being a student which her... schoolyard chum? quickly shot down. And he claimed to be a student which she just as quickly torpedoed, as he is a police officer. As well as her... uncle? Apparently some people respond negatively to him being a police officer, which is sad. Though not as sad as us not attempting to meet her and her friends (and her... cousin?) for drinks later.

Radio City Music Hall
We wandered off full and broke to the Rockefeller Center, passing Radio City Music Hall on the way and gazing in wonder upon the building itself as well as the famous Christmas tree and skating rink. What a beautiful place. All the scene needed were some snowflakes tumbling to the ground and it would have been the most romantic rink on the planet. For now, that title is still held by SaskPlace... err Credit Union Centre. We also saw a church that looked worthy of a photo, and in the distance, what we thought was the Chysler Building. We walked and walked and realized we weren't getting there tonight in time to get back to the hotel, so we called it off, luckily, because even after the trip, we still haven't figured out what building that really was.

Back at the hotel, it turned out Jon's flight was delayed and he might not be arriving at all. We left a note with our intentions of checking out the MacDougal St Ale House in the Village as well as directions. Which didn't help at all as we surfaced and had no idea which way was which. Amazingly, we wandered the right way and onto MacDougal without realizing it. We were standing at a corner, trying to figure out which way to go to find the Ale House and then Kurt asks, "You mean that one" and points right in front of us. Oops.

It was dead so we hit several other pubs with varying success. The cougars were out in force and liked the foreign blood. We were cautious. We found the Peculiar Pub with the stankiest beer ever, possibly a pineapple and shoepolish blend. Also, a cool jazz club that was too full and another cool looking place where the bouncer gave us an appraising look and denied us entrance as it was "too much guy". Ah, New York. We wound up somewhere where we met some fellow Canadians (of course, men) and played Darren & Kurt played some pool upstairs with the only two ladies in the place. We got back to our hotel at 4:30 AM and were up again. End day one.

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